Route: From the guard station at Laguna de Cuicocha take a sharp
right up cobbled/dirt road. Follow
this for approx. 13km to military post. A
shortcut would be to follow the
power lines but this is a bit steeper. Before you
reach the military post (approx.
300 meters) at the hairpin curve you will see a
trail that heads right up the grassy
paramo ridge to the base of Cotocachi.
Camping is best about an hour from
this juncture. There is very little water
on this route, so plan accordingly.
The trail winds to the left (west) and then
heads north towards the peak. Obvious
stone cairns mark the way. We
recommend a helmet for this climb
as rockfall is frequent. Head up and look for
a col on the southwest side of the
peak. Drop down to yellow scree in basin
and head up rock benches. Head up
10m of class 5 rock to summit ridge.
From here follow knife-edged ridge
to summit (about 40m) with 200m drops
on either side. Bring rope and slings
for the climb as abseiling down is your best
bet. Allow 3-5 hours from military
post to the summit. This mountain is often
covered in clouds and frequently
has poor weather.
A more challenging (mostly because of poor rock) is to
head northeast from base of mountain.
Head for a small saddle and look for
cairns which head for ridge. At
the rock wall head up the 20m chimney to
summit scree slope. Caution: most
of this rock is rotten and makes for difficult
Take a bus from Quito to Otavalo. Once in Otavalo you can
find small buses that leave regularly
for the 30 minute drive to Quiroga. (You
may also find some willing pick
up trucks in Otavalo to take you all the way)
From here you can hire a pick-up
truck to take you to the Laguna. Note: some
camionetas will take you all the
way to the military post near the base of
Cotocachi, others won't because
of road conditions. Be sure to ask how "far"
they will go. You can also arrange
for these pick-up trucks to return the next
day for your return. Rates vary
on these trucks but you can expect to pay
about $10 for the ride.