Marco Cruz: The Mountaineering Icon


Inspired by of the magnificent colossus, he developed a "love-story" with the mountain

Throughout its millenary history, Ecuador has had hundreds of patriots, heroes, artists, musicians, athletes and other personalities who have transcended the limits of the ordinary and become icons of the country’s history. We wanted to share with our readers the story of one of these special personalities of Ecuador, who is currently alive and conducting diverse activities, with national and international recognition.  

Marco Cruz is synonymous with “Chimborazo”. The Chimborazo Volcano is Ecuador’s highest mountain. Rising at close to 21.000 feet above sea level, it is one of South America’s highest peaks and, due to its location near the Equator line, where the terrestrial globe is wider, it is considered as the highest elevation in the planet, measured from the center of the Earth. Marco was born in 1945 in the historic city of Riobamba, at the foothills of the Volcano, in Ecuador’s central Andes. Inspired by the stunning vision of the magnificent colossus, he developed a “love-story” with the mountain, whose summits he has conquered close to 600 times since he was a teenager. For decades he has been widely recognized, nationally and internationally, as one of the most prominent, knowledgeable and experienced mountaineers in the world and the expert on the mighty Chimborazo Volcano, whose natural and human history he knows to perfection and whose summits he continues to climb, as well as  several of the other majestic volcanoes of Ecuador.

Marco Cruz is knowledgeable to encyclopedic heights; passionate about his country, its history, geography and people, its ancestral roots and culture. He displays an exhilarating and genuine torrent of emotions that often makes him break to tears, transmitting in a most human, humble and charismatic manner, his joy of life and pride for his country. As a professional mountaineer, scholar and naturally-born teacher, he has a special zest to share his knowledge with unlimited enthusiasm. Whether showing tourists around, leading a professional mountain-climbing international expedition or teaching new generations of guides, Marco’s wealth of information about Ecuador, about his hometown and his favorite mountain, the Chimborazo, makes spending just a few hours with him a unique experience with one of the most authentic representatives of Ecuador’s culture and hospitality.

Marco Cruz

Explorer, photographer, writer, scholar, adventurer, dreamer, discoverer, indefatigable voyager, mountaineer, guide, historian, geographer, geologist, tour organizer and entrepreneur are some of the main features which describe Marco’s life and personality. He is considered a pioneer of professional mountain-climbing and adventure tourism in Ecuador and has dedicated much of his life to a wholesome study about Ecuador, its nature and people. As a mountain guide he rapidly gained fame and is constantly requested by international expeditions to lead them to the conquest of the grand Chimborazo’s summits. By the time he turned 18 years of age, he had conquered all of the main summits of the Ecuadorian Andes, including the first-ever conquest of the “El Obispo” peak on the gigantic Altar Volcano’s Massif.

His adventurous spirit led him to study tourism in Spain and this was the opportunity to also learn new mountain climbing techniques at some of the most important Alpine peaks. This was the beginning of years of travelling around the world and reaching the summits of some of the highest and most challenging peaks in Europe; the Himalayas in Asia; Kilimanjaro in Africa; Iceland; McKinley in Alaska; Antarctica and the most important peaks of South America’s Andes.

Back in Ecuador, the Ministry of Tourism of the country hired Marco to undertake the delicate task of raising the nation’s complete inventory of tourism resources. It took him four years of intensive travelling throughout the entire geography of Ecuador to accomplish the mission which provided him with an amazing wealth of knowledge about the historic, geographic, climatic, ecological, cultural, anthropological and ethnographic reality, facts and figures about Ecuador.

In 1976 he created a small tourism enterprise for the development of an increasingly popular and specialized travel segment: mountaineering, trekking and adventure tours. His company has acquired international reputation for the reliability and quality of its services, professionalism and the personal conduction of Marco Cruz. They built and own a cozy Mountain Lodge, the “Star of Chimborazo”, at 13.120 feet above sea level, where mountain and nature lovers can spend time in the fascinating Andean world, surrounded by beautiful scenery, packs of llamas and alpacas or use it as the base-camp for acclimatization and training before ascending the great Chimborazo on expeditions tailor-made for experienced climbers.

Estrella del Chimborazo Lodge

Marco has also been an active promoter of the conservation of the Chimborazo’s ecosystems, now carefully managed as a Fauna Reserve and National Park, part of Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas. As an explorer he has discovered important archaeological sites in and around the Chimborazo and found the original route followed by Alexander Von Humboldt during his historic ascension to the giant. He has prepared and trained several generations of mountain guides, including numerous indigenous guides, who will keep his flame alive and transmit it to the future generations. His books in several languages and more than 10.000 photographs are just a part of his legacy for the history of Ecuador’s mountain and adventure tourism.

But it is Marco Cruz, the human being, the main feature that makes him so special. At his charming private home in the outskirts of Riobamba city, in itself a unique home-museum and library, together with his lovely family, Marco Cruz is always ready to open his arms to welcome old friends or new visitors, to tell them with emotion-filled words, how much he loves his country and why it is so outstanding. He will often invite you for a delicious typical meal , a perfect time to listen to some amazing stories and fall in love with Ecuador, just like he already did, at unimaginable levels.

If you would like to get in touch with Marco or book a tour, you can check his company, Expediciones Andinas.

For more Things To Do in Ecuador, click here.