Mount Carihuairazo (also Carihuayrazo) is a volcanic caldera neighboured by Ecuador's highest mountain Chimborazo.
Carihuairazo is located in the Cordillera Occidental
of the Andes
of central Ecuador, 150 km (93 miles) south-southwest of the capital Quito
. Its neighboured by 6,267 m high Chimborazo
. The nearest cities are Riobamba
(~30 km to the southeast), Ambato
(~30 km to the northeast) and Guaranda
(~30 km to the southwest). Carihuairazo's 1.5 km wide heavy eroded caldera opens to the east.
The Carihuairazo forms part of the "Reserva de Produccion Faunistica Chimborazo" which forms a protected ecosystem to preserve the habitat for the andens native camelids Vicuña, Llama and Alpaca.
Carihuairazo's Glacier has lost an important part of its mass during the last decade as a result of global warming
and ash covers caused by the recent volcanic activity of its eastern neighbour Tungurahua
Carihuairazo must have been a Volcano of similar dimensions to its neighbour Chimborazo before explosions during the last period of activity destroyed the mass of the peak, leaving today's caldera. There is no evidence of historic activity and Carihuayrazo is considered inactive.
An interpretation of its name is that it's a combination of the Quichua
(wind) and razu
(Ice/Snow) (Schmudlach 2001). Local Indian mythology narrates that Carihuairazo and El Altar
which are both volcanic calderas have been destroyed by Taita (Father) Chimborazo
fighting for the grace of Mamá Tungurahua
Carihuayrazo was climbed by Edward Whymper
and the brothers Louis and Jean-Antoine Carrel
during their 1880 Ecuador expedition. It is not entirely clear out of Whymper's descriptions but it is believed that they climbed the Mocha
(4,960m) and not the Maxima
summit (5,018m). The first ascent to the Maxima
summit is attributed to Arturo Eichler, Horacio Lopez Uribe and Jean Morawiecki in 1951 (Neate 1994).
Due to the glacier retreat
and its consequences climbing Carihuairazo has shifted from a PD
glacier route with some rock scrambling to a AD
route with a technical climb to the summit tower (Maxima, 5,018m).
- Carihuairazo can be climbed year round with best seasons being December-January and July-August.
- A good height acclimatization is highly recommended for this climb.
- The mountain is contained on the IGM (Instituto Geografico Militar) 1:50000 Map Chimborazo (CT-ÑIV-C1) (IGM 1991, ).
The normal route to Carihuairazo Maxima (5,018m) starts from a camping spot at ~4,600m, reaching the main ridge either via the SW-ridge or from West via the glacier, followed by a difficult technical climb to reach the summit tower.