"The walk to the foot of the mountain was easy, allowing us ample time to admire Chimborazo's huge bulk behind us and El Altar's craggy face. We made camp in the beautiful valley, and started up the rim the next morning under yet another clear blue sky. Our proposed route up the steep side of the crater looked the easiest, but we were mistaken. Halfway up I was convinced that to continue scrabbling up a seemingly vertical slope of damp moss and crumbling rock was suicidal. Since going down was even worse, I lapsed into a sniveling state of quivering immobility.... Of course, we made it to the top and were rewarded by gorgeous views of the lake, glaciers, rock towers and ice castles. Readers will be happy to know there is an easier route to the rim." Backpacking in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, By Hilary and George Bradt, is one of a series of back-country guides to Latin America. Both armchair travelers and real adventurers in search of life far, far beyond the Hilton should enjoy them.

Backpacking in Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. $8.45 ppd. Catalogue of other guidebooks and maps. 50 cents. Bradt Enterprises, 95 Harvey St., Cambridge, Mass. 02140. 617/492-8776.