Tragedy on one of the country's most difficult summits, Illiniza Sur (5,263m), has prompted discussion on revising the climbing regulations for Ecuador's snowy mountains.
Ecuadorians María Fernanda Chacha (22), Sergio Gómez (28) and Freddy Velásquez (34) appear to have fallen during the descent from Illiniza Sur, ending up in the depths of a large crevasse. All three were killed.
This incident sparked discussions, with those arguing for a change in regulations advocating that all mountaineers venturing above 5,000m must employ a guide.
Ecuador is a popular destination for those seeking altitude experience beyond the Alps.
In the main, the high summits offer technically straightforward ascents, generally easy and inexpensive access, and, to date, relatively hassle-free climbing. It is possible to bag a number of worthwhile high summits in a relatively short holiday.
Although Cotopaxi had been climbed in 1872, it was the highly productive 1880 expedition of Edward Whymper and his two Italian guides that made the first ascents of most of the major Ecuadorian summits, including the highest, Chimborazo.
Although Whymper himself was beaten twice by the complex summit cornice of Illiniza Sur, his guides Jean-Antoine and Louis Carrel claimed to have reached the top, climbing from the north.
The mountain would not be climbed again until 1939.
Today's Normal Route ascends the steep glaciated slopes of the northwest face at around AD+. The 600m of height gain often sports difficult crevasse terrain. There will generally be slopes of 60° and maybe steeper steps through ice formations.
Discussions in Ecuador follow renewed attempts to implement further restrictions to climbing in one of Peru's foremost mountain ranges.
Four years ago the bureaucrats of Huascaran National Park, in which most of the Cordillera Blanca is set, attempted to implement a policy making it mandatory for climbers and trekkers to operate inside the Park with guides or "authorized service providers".
It was only after strong pressure against the proposal from the local climbing community and the intervention of the UIAA, which sent a delegation to Peru to negotiate with the Ministry of Tourism, that the requirement was dropped.
However, it was agreed that climbers could only enter the Park without guides if they could demonstrate they were members of a UIAA-affiliated club. This simply required showing an original copy of one's membership card, then registering with the Park and paying an entry fee.
But globally some climbers do not belong to such organizations. An active Peruvian guide in the Blanca notes that recorded first ascents in the area have dropped markedly in recent years. He knows that this is rather more to do with mountaineers having to operate "illegally", and therefore not reporting their ascents, rather than new routes not being achieved.
Last summer the National Park Office attempted to impose a maximum stay of seven days in the Park, but this was prevented by a group of tourism companies in Huaraz, the main centre for the Cordillera Blanca.
However, the Office has announced that in 2013 it aims to enforce the following regulations:
All those who wish to practice "extreme sports" within the Park will have to engage the services of a Peruvian travel agency.
These agencies must comply with the Rules of Tourism and Recreation in the National Park.
Risk sport practitioners will need to sign a document exempting the National Park from liability.
The formalities may require visitors to show evidence of an insurance policy, and submit a proposed itinerary for approval.
However, regular local and visiting activists say that over the years few climbers have been turned back, rules have not been strictly enforced, and climbers basically still do whatever they want. They do note that the one aspect the authorities are really sensitive to is foreign guides working in the area.