Carihuairazo ecuador volcano rescue
Carihuairazo in the distance; (photo/Mark Horrell via Flickr)

Huge Rescue Effort on Ecuador Volcano: 3 Climbers Dead, 12 Injured

Ecuador mobilized a massive rescue effort after a group of climbers fell 180 feet on one of the country’s highest volcanoes.

The government said three climbers have died, and another 12 were injured while climbing an Ecuadorian volcano on Saturday.

The climbers experienced a 60m fall (about 180 feet) while on Carihuairazo (16,643 feet) at around 9:30 a.m. on August 13, according to a news release from ECU911.

Officials at ECU911, the country’s emergency service, located the group’s GPS device and organized a rescue of the climbers. The rescue involved multiple organizations, including high mountain teams from nearby cities.

It was a “black day” for mountaineering, the Ecuador Association of Mountain Guides wrote on Facebook. A rope slipped and fell as the group of climbers descended from the summit, causing several of them to fall, the group said.

“The seven injured climbers were rescued by a group of mountaineers who were at the site and stayed with them until rescue teams arrived,” the group said (translated from Spanish).

Fire departments from three nearby cities came to help, as well as the Ministry of Public Health and Ecuador’s Special Operations Group. A police helicopter arrived to evacuate injured climbers, and a group from ASEGUIM (Association of Mountain Guides) assisted the rescue.

12 Climbers Evacuated in Ecuador Volcano Rescue

A 47-year-old woman and two men ages 45 and 50 died in the accident, ECU911 reported. Rescue workers could not evacuate the three bodies on Saturday, but officials said they would return for them later.

Among the injured were 12 women ages 42-52 and 12 men ages 39-58. Injuries included contusions, fractures, and headaches, ECU911 reported. Once stabilized, the service said, emergency workers evacuated the injured climbers by helicopter to nearby hospitals.

Most of Ecuador’s mountains are volcanoes like Carihuairazo. It’s near Chimborazo, also a volcano and the country’s tallest mountain at 20,571 feet.

According to Summit Post, “Carihuairazo is a good acclimatization peak where you can practice some snow and glacier walking skills.” However, a local climbing blog suggests the mountain has become more complex with the thawing of its glacier.

“This hike requires crampons, ice axes, harnesses, rope and definitely a helmet,” Hike Ecuador wrote. “If there is little snow coverage, it also requires trad gear to get up on the last summit block. Don’t go unless you’re confident in your mountaineering abilities.”

It’s unclear whether the group was self-guided or climbing as part of a guided tour. But climbing the volcano does not require professional climbing guides.

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Andrew McLemore
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An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, which he uses as a home base for adventures throughout the Americas. When he's not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he's hanging out with his dog Campana.