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The Chimborazo as seen from Riobamba

The Chimborazo as seen from Riobamba

height 6263  m
location Ecuador
Mountains Andes ( Western Cordillera )
Dominance 845 km →  Huandoy
Notch height 4122 m ↓  Olmos (Peru)
Coordinates 1 ° 28 ′ 10 ″  S , 78 ° 49 ′ 1 ″  W Coordinates: 1 ° 28 ′ 10 ″  S , 78 ° 49 ′ 1 ″  W
Topo map IGM, CT-IV-C1
Chimborazo (Ecuador)
Type Stratovolcano
rock Andesite , dacite
Age of the rock Pliocene to Pleistocene
Last eruption 550 ± 150 years
First ascent 1880, Edward Whymper , Jean-Antoine Carrel and Louis Carrel
Normal way Alpine tour (glaciated)
particularities Highest mountain in Ecuador; The summit is the highest point on earth from the center of the earth
Template: Infobox Berg / Maintenance / TOPO-MAP

The inactive volcano Chimborazo ([ ˌtʃimboˈɾaθo ], [ ˌt͡ʃimboˈɾaso ]), also in German Tschimborasso , is the highest mountain in Ecuador at 6263 m above sea level .

Geography and geology


The Chimborazo is located in the western cordillera of the Andes, approx. 165 km south of the equator , in the province named after it . Its neighboring peak is the 5018 meter high Carihuairazo . The majestic summit of Chimborazo rises 2500 m from the around 3500 to 4000 m high surrounding plateau. Its diameter at the base is about 20 km. In ideal conditions, mostly in the winter months (December – April), the summit can be seen from the coastal city of Guayaquil . The most important cities in its vicinity are Riobamba (about 30 km southeast), Ambato (about 30 km northeast) and Guaranda (about 25 km southwest of the mountain). The Chimborazo lies within the “Reserva de Produccion Faunistica Chimborazo” nature reserve , which serves to protect the habitat for the camelid vicuña , lama and alpaca native to the Andes .


The upper part of the mountain from around 5100 meters is glaciated . Individual arms of the glacier reach down to 4600 m. The Chimborazo glaciers provide the water supply for large parts of the provinces of Bolívar and Chimborazo . The glaciers have lost significant mass in the last decades due to global warming , ash cover as a result of the current volcanic activity of its eastern neighbor Tungurahua (Schotterer et al. 2003) and the El Niño phenomenon.

As with other Ecuadorian mountains, the ice of the Chimborazo glaciers is mined by so-called Hieleros (from the Spanish Hielo for ice) to be sold in the markets of Guaranda and Riobamba. In the past, the ice was transported down to coastal cities such as Babahoyo or Vinces (Borja 2004). Baltazar Ushca is the only remaining Hielero who regularly climbs up to the Chimborazo ice mines.


The volcanism at Chimborazo is the result of the subduction of the Nazca plate under the South American continent and is predominantly andesitic - Dazitic in character. The stratovolcano erupted for the last time around the year 550 (± 150 years).


The Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador, the furthest north-lying six-thousander in South America and higher than all the more northerly mountains in America including Denali , the highest mountain and only six-thousander in North America. For a long time it was ascribed a height of 6310 m. A differential GPS measurement carried out in 2016 found an altitude of only 6,263 m. Also SRTM data indicate that this height is more likely m as the widespread altitude of the 6310th

Before the Himalayas were measured, the Chimborazo was considered the highest mountain on earth . However, George Everest's measurements in 1856 showed that many Himalayan peaks, particularly Mount Everest, are significantly higher than the Chimborazo. Even in the Andes today, many higher mountains and volcanoes are known. The highest mountain in the Andes is the Aconcagua with 6961 m height, the highest volcano on earth is the Nevado Ojos del Salado with 6893 m also located in the Andes .

Distance from the earth's axis and from the center of the earth

Because of its proximity to the equator, the summit of Chimborazo is the point on the earth's surface that is furthest from the center of the earth . The fact that it surpasses the much higher Mount Everest in this respect is due to the fact that the earth is not a sphere due to the rotation and the resulting centrifugal force , but an ellipsoid of revolution , the radius of which is smaller at the poles and larger at the equator . If one takes the center of the earth as a reference point, according to Senne (2000) the Chimborazo (1 ° south latitude, 6384.557 km from the center of the earth) exceeds Mount Everest (28 ° north latitude, 6382.414 km from the center of the earth) by more than two kilometers.

On the one hand, because of the maximum distance from the earth's axis, the centrifugal acceleration due to the rotation of the earth is greatest here, on the other hand, because of the maximum distance from the center of the earth, the gravitational acceleration is lowest, both of which contribute to the very low acceleration of gravity at the summit of Chimborazo, 9.767 m / s² owns.



Name and mythological meaning

There are various theories regarding the origin of the name Chimborazo . It can be a combination of the Cayapa word for woman - Shingbu - and the Kichwa word for ice / snow - Razo - which would result in something like Icy Woman , or with Chimbo for throne / divine throne from the Shuar it would result in Icy Throne of God . The mountain is also called Urkurasu (Urcorazo) by the indigenous people living in the area ; with the Quichua word urku - mountain - that simply results in mountain ice .

In the local indigenous mysticism of the Puruhá , for example , the Chimborazo is a sacred mountain . Taita Chimborazo ( Taita is Kichwa for father) represents the progenitor of Puruhá as the husband of Mama Tungurahua .

First ascent

Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland at the foot of the Chimborazo

The Chimborazo was first described by a European, Girolamo Benzoni , in 1565 . The French Charles Marie de La Condamine and Pierre Bouguer carried out research on the mountain in 1742. Alexander von Humboldt, together with Aimé Bonpland and Carlos Montúfar, made his first real attempt to climb on June 23, 1802; they reached an altitude of about 5600 m (their own estimate at the time was 5900 m). We owe the first precise description of the symptoms of altitude sickness to the description of the ascent by Humboldt . Humboldt spent several days on the mountain. He sketched it and had himself pictured with it in the background. In December 1831, the naturalist Jean Baptiste Boussingault from France also failed . A British-Italian rope team consisting of Edward Whymper and the brothers Jean-Antoine and Louis Carrel was the first to reach the summit on January 4, 1880. The refuge on the southwest side below the glacier at 5000 m was named in honor of the British "Edward-Whymper- Hut “named. Since many critics questioned the successful first ascent, Whymper climbed the mountain a second time in the same year via a new route (from Pogyos in the west) with the two Ecuadorians David Beltrán and Francisco Campaña (Whymper 1892).

Flight SAETA 232

On August 15, 1976 SAETA flight 232 with 55 passengers and 4 crew members was lost on the 309 km route from Quito to Cuenca . Immediate searches in possible crash regions were unsuccessful. Although a crash at Chimborazo was believed to be the most likely, no wreck could be found. After the crashed plane and its occupants had been considered missing for more than 26 years, the remains were found on October 17, 2002 by Ecuadorian mountaineers who used the seldom traveled integral route at an altitude of about 5400 m east of the Chimborazo main summit.


Chimborazo on the coat of arms of Ecuador


alternative description
Sketch of the location of the peaks, the refuges and the main routes on the Chimborazo
Sunrise on the summit plateau of Chimborazo with a view of Tungurahua and El Altar

Climbing the Chimborazo is very popular with mountaineers. Despite its height, it is easily accessible and the normal route is comparatively easy to climb.

  • The Chimborazo can be climbed year-round, with the relatively dry and more often clear months of December / January and July / August being best for an ascent.
  • Good altitude acclimatization is required.


The easiest and most popular routes are the normal route ( level of difficulty I / F-PD-) and the Whymper route (II / PD +). Both routes start at the Whymper Hut and lead via the west ridge and the Ventimilla pre-summit (6228 m) to the main summit ( Whymper or Ecuador ) (6263 m).

There are various other, less used and mostly more difficult routes over the different sides and ridges to one of the following summits: Main Summit ( Whymper , Ecuador ), Central Summit ( Politecnico ) and East Summit ( N. Martinez ).


Refugio Carrel

There are two huts in operation, the Carrel hut (4850 m) and the Whymper hut (5000 m) a little further up. The Carrel Hut is accessed by a road and can be reached from Riobamba, Ambato or Guaranda. The Zurita hut (4900 m) on the Pogyos route is no longer in operation.

Literature and maps

  • Carmen Borja: Hieleros del Chimborazo. Entrevista a Igor Guayasamín. In: Ecuador Terra Incognita. Vol. 29, 2004.
  • Isabelle Chaffaut, Marie Guillaume: El Niño and glacier melt in the tropical Andes. from: , October 22, 2004, accessed August 22, 2006.
  • Nelson Gómez: Atlas del Ecuador. Editorial Ediguias, Quito 1994 (3rd edition, ISBN 9978-89-009-2 )
  • Alexander von Humboldt : About an attempt to climb the summit of Chimborazo. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-8218-0767-9 . (contains, among other things, Humboldt's diary entries for his unsuccessful ascent)
  • Günter Schmudlach: Mountain Guide Ecuador. Hikes around Quito, trekking tours, medium mountain tours, snow mountains, climbing mountains, combined tours, jungle mountains. Panico Alpinverlag, Köngen 2001, ISBN 3-926807-82-2 .
  • Ulrich Schotterer, Martin Grosjean et al: Glaciers and Climate in the Andes between the Equator and 30 ° S: What is Recorded under Extreme Environmental Conditions? In: Climatic Change . Vol. 59, H. 1-2, 2003, ISSN  0165-0009 , pp. 157-175.
  • Edward Whymper : Travels Amongst the Great Andes of the Equator , John Murray, London 1892, ISBN 1-904466-24-9 (various new editions).

Individual evidence

  1. a b Chimborazo in the Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian Institution (English)
  2. Chimborazo ascent in Ecuador: failure like Humboldt. In: Spiegel Online. September 8, 2017. Retrieved September 17, 2019 .
  3. The Tungurahua has been active again since 1999, with the most significant eruptions from October to December 1999 and May to July 2006, ( Actividad Volcan Tungurahua ( Memento from May 1, 2006 in the Internet Archive ). Instituto Geofísico, EPN Ecuador. Retrieved on 21. August 2006.)
  4. ^ El Niño and glacier melt in the tropical Andes. In: October 22, 2004, accessed August 1, 2012 .
  5. Stephanie Geiger: The holy ice cream from Chimborazo. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , September 26, 2014
  6. ^ IGM 1991 ( Memento of May 10, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Chimborazo, el volcán de Ecuador más alto que el Everest (si se mide desde el centro de la Tierra). In: BBC mundo. April 7, 2016, Retrieved September 17, 2019 (Spanish).
  8. World Top 50 Prominence, Footnote # 17. In: Retrieved February 17, 2007 .
  9. Some frequently misquoted elevations, Chimborazo Ecuador. In: Retrieved February 17, 2007 .
  10. In this ranking, the peaks of even more five and six thousand meter peaks in the central Andes and also of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, are further away from the center of the earth than Mount Everest , see list of the highest peaks in the Andes at a distance from the center of the earth ( Memento from 15. March 2009 in the Internet Archive ) (Spanish)
  11. ^ Joseph H. Senne: Did Edmund Hillary Climb the Wrong Mountain? In: Professional Surveyor , Vol. 20, H. 5, 2000, ISSN  0278-1425 (online at ( memento of the original from June 18, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet Checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. ). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. ^ Schmudlach 2001.
  13. ^ Karl Gratzl: Myth Mountain. Lexicon of the important mountains from mythology, cultural history and religion . Hollinek, Purkersdorf 2000, ISBN 3-85119-280-X , p. 67-68 .
  14. Oliver Lubrich in: Alexander von Humboldt: About an attempt to climb the summit of Chimborazo , Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-8218-0767-9 .
  15. Alexander von Humboldt: About an attempt to climb the summit of Chimborazo , Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-8218-0767-9 .
  16. Database. 1976. Sunday, August 15, 1976. In: Aviation Safety Network. February 8, 2020, accessed on February 8, 2020 (description of the accident on flight SAETA 232).
  17. Jörg Franze: Humboldt made a little older. In: Nordkurier / Neubrandenburger Zeitung , 21./22. June 2014, p. 20.
  18. Chimborazo (6,310m). In: Retrieved February 6, 2010 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Chimborazo  - album with pictures, videos and audio files