Guagua Pichincha Volcano

Guagua Pichincha Ecuador
Elevation Table
 PlaceElevation
Highest Summit4793m
Summit 14784m
Summit 24751m
Refuge4568m
Lloa3088m

Description

The Guagua Pichincha, whose meaning would be "child" or "baby" Pichincha, is part of the Pichincha mace, together with Ruco Pichincha (4698m) and Padre Encantado. These three mountains are especially visible from the south of Quito, sometimes with a layer of snow on their upper parts. The Guagua Pichincha volcano has been active for many years, its eruptions have been explosive causing large columns of ash that have risen thousands of meters falling later on the city of Quito and causing much fright among its inhabitants, especially the 2001 eruption. Currently, the volcanic activity is medium low, although it does have some fumaroles inside its horseshoe crater, it vents most of the material to the west side, far away from Quito. The Guagua, as the Quiteños call it, attracts many tourists who visit the crater viewpoint and climb to the main summits.

Photos

Lloa
Lloa
Guagua Pichincha
Guagua Pichincha
Guagua Pichincha Crater
Guagua Pichincha Crater

Click here to view the photo gallery

Location

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.

Distances
ViaKilometersTime
La Mena 2 - Lloa10.5km17min
Lloa - Guagua Pichincha Refuge14.5km50min
Guagua Pichincha Refuge - Crater BorderHiking20min

Recommendations

  • 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.

Climbing and Hiking

There are some beautiful hikes:

Flora

Ranunculus gusmanni
Ranunculus gusmanni
Bomarea hirsuta
Bomarea hirsuta
Chuquiraga jussieui
Chuquiraga jussieui
Monnina crassifolia
Monnina crassifolia

Click here to view the flora gallery

History

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
Click to read about their visits and ascents

Volcanology

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.

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