9 peaks scrape the sky, each one more rugged than the previous. At the heart of these peaks the sulphur filled Laguna Amarillo sits tranquillo. This is El Altar, an ancient Volcano set deep in Sangay National Park, Ecuador.
Two main routes lead to the volcano, (from the communities of Candelaria and Quimiag) stray from these paths and you’ll likely see places few people have ever seen.
Our journey starts high up in the community of Nabuzo. We follow the ridge South 8km then loop around SE for 4km. We camp on the northern side of el Altar, with a stunning view over the collantes plane and the volcano mouth.
Day 2 and we head NE through a magnificent valley lined by 23 waterfalls. The plan was to do a loop of the mountain or get as far as possible but due to logistical problems (i.e. we spent 6 hours trapsing through fog looking for our tent) we decided to explore just the northern side.
We set of early day 3, following the crater ridge to get as close to the summit of El Canonigo (5267m) as possible, or as far as we dare… there’s a 200m drop on one side and a 50m drop on the other side, loose rock, 85degree climbs and the falling snow add a little spice to this ridge walk. But the view from the crater edge is truly breathtaking and worth the adventure.