Gear Kits

Mountaineering on the Volcanoes of Ecuador

Here's the gear you'll need to stay warm and dry on 17,000+ ft volcanoes

Curated by Kyle Frost

This past December, I spent 2 weeks climbing many of the highest volcanoes in Ecuador. We made it to 17,000 ft on Cayambe before being turned back due to avalanche conditions, but successfully summited Antisana (18,714 ft) and Chimborazo (20,564 ft). Mountaineering at this altitude, while still not as high as the Himalaya, definitely requires excellent fitness and smart clothing choices. Here's some of the gear I trusted to keep me warm and dry while climbing these beautiful mountains.

When you're climbing snow covered peaks, especially at high altitude, a good pair of sunglasses is incredibly important. Because of high UV and the reflection off the snow, you'll want a pair with side-covers and good UV protection (or you could temporarily sunburn your eyeballs. No joke). The Traverse glasses not only performed great, but they're stylish as heck, compared to some other options.

This hybrid jacket is a new release from Under Armour. While I was initially skeptical, it quickly became my primary insulated layer for when it was too warm for my Rab Continuum, or was used as a midlayer when it was REALLY cold. This is the hybrid version, so it has a similar structure to another one of my favorite jackets, the Arcteryx Atom LT. Overall, I was pretty impressed. The downside?

You'll want some good all-purpose crampons that are compatible with your choice of boot. Much of our time was spent in glacial travel, and although we weren't doing any straight ice climbing, you'll need crampons for navigating the steep snow slopes.

These leggings were great for chilling around the refugio as well as my base layer when climbing.

A great do-it-all softshell pant that I used both for hiking and mountaineering. While not the most technical pant, it worked great for the equatorial conditions we found in Ecuador.

If you plan on doing a lot of mountaineering (or even just some), this is the harness I recommend. You've already got a bulky rock harness? Leave it at home. At only half a pound, you'll barely even know it's there. Plus, it's designed to be easily put on while wearing skis or boots and crampons. A perfect harness for glacier travel and mountaineering.

Gotta have good socks. Definitely bring multiple pairs, as you'll want dry socks for the refugio, or to double up if your feet typically get very cold.

I only wore these on Chimborazo, but I was sure glad I had them. A glove for when it got REALLY cold. And trust me, it got REALLY cold on Chimborazo.

This isn't the exact boot I wore (we rented from a shop in Quito), but it's close. Most guide companies will recommend that you use a plastic double mountaineering boot.

A good headlamp is super important, especially when you'll be starting most of your climbs at 11pm. Don't forget to bring extra batteries! PRO TIP: Take a battery out when you're not using it, so it doesn't accidentally turn on and burn up battery.

The Raven is a staple of mountaineers everywhere. It's lightweight and dependable. For high altitude mountaineering, I definitely recommend having a long axe, as you'll be moving slowly and using it more like a hiking pole. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.

While we weren't actually climbing in hiking boots, these are great for hiking around the refugio's or on acclimatization hikes. They stayed dry in all the rough conditions we put them in. Plus, they're super comfortable and have almost no break-in period.

I wore this pretty much all the time while climbing. It has a great weight/warmth ratio and was my primary base layer at all altitudes.