Guagua Pichincha Volcano
The Guagua Pichincha, whose meaning would be "child" or "baby" Pichincha, is part of the mace of Pichincha, together with the Ruco Pichincha (4698m) and the Padre Encantado. These three mountains are especially visible from the south of Quito, sometimes with a layer of snow in their upper parts. The Guagua Pichincha volcano consists of a dome, called Cristal, located inside a sliding escarpment that has a horseshoe-shaped open to the west. Other more ancient and much larger eruptive centers like Toaza, Basal Guagua and Rucu are located east of the active volcanic center whose fumaroles are usually very noticeable.
The Guagua Pichincha is formed mostly by rocks of dacitic composition. Several of the eruptions of the last ten thousand years were very explosive and caused ash falls, pyroclastic flows, as well as lava domes that subsequently collapsed.
Guagua Pichincha Crater
Western Cordillera; 12 kilometers in a straight line west of Quito.
1) Normal Approach "Lloa": The road to LLoa is located at the south of Quito, La Mena 2 neighborhood, Angamarca street. From this place it is possible to take a bus to this town. And from Lloa it is possible to rent pickup trucks that sometimes arrive to the Guagua Pichincha refuge. The road is paved and in good condition until Lloa, and from there cobblestoned and ballasted, it is advisable to go in 4×4 vehicles, especially the last part.
|La Mena 2 - Lloa||10km||13min|
|Lloa - Guagua Pichincha Refuge||14.5km||50min|
|Guagua Pichincha Refuge - Crater Border||Hiking||20min|
- The hike from Lloa to the Guagua Pichincha refuge can take between 5 and 6 hours.
- Usually, a single day is required for any activity on this mountain; as long as you have transport to the refuge.
- The refuge is used especially for volcano monitoring, it is also open to any visitor. It has bunk beds and kitchen.
- An easy hike is to go up from the refuge to the crater rim, 15 to 30min; you will have pretty views in clear days.
- You could continue walking to the first summit another 30min to 1 hour, easy hike.
- The Guagua Pichincha receives the clouds from the coast and sometimes could be very cloudy; be careful not to get away from the main paths.
There are some beautiful hikes on the Guagua Pichincha area; these are some of the most frequented:
- Lloa to the refuge
- Guagua Pichincha Highest Summit
- Descent to the Guagua Pichincha crater
- Guagua Pichincha - Padre Encantado - Ruco Pichincha
- Guagua Pichincha lower summits
- Lloa to Mindo
First recorded visits or opened routes:
- Toribio de Ortiguera, 1582
- Alexander von Humboldt, 1802
- Wilhelm Reiss and Stübel, 1870
- Edward Whymper and the Carrel Brothers, 1880
- Theodor Wolf, 1883
During the prehistoric times the eruptions of greatest magnitude were those that occurred 3700 and 1000 years ago. The historical eruption of the year 1660 was also very important, albeit of lesser magnitude than the preceding ones. In all the events there were major ash falls in the city of Quito, as well as pyroclastic flows, dome collapses and secondary lahars generation in various sectors of the volcano (Robin et al., 2010).
During the investigations carried out in excavations at the valley of Quito, a large evidence of deposits of these falls of ashes and secondary lahars have been found. The fall related to the eruption of 1000 years has a thickness of 12 cm at the area of the Central University. In the historical center, the fall associated with the eruption of 1660 has a thickness of 4 cm.
The Guagua Pichincha has been in great activity since 1999, having had its strongest eruption on May 25, 2001, at that time a cloud of ash rose to a height of 8.5 km.