Cotopaxi is the second highest active volcano in the world. At its summit, Cotopaxi is 5897 m and has a 800 m wide crater, 250 m deep.
The first record of its eruption dates back to 1534. According to tradition, during a decisive battle between the Spanish invaders and the natives the volcano erupted. As the indigenous people worshiped the volcano, they saw it as a sudden rage. On the other side, the Spanish were terrified because they had never witnessed anything like that. The final result: the fight stopped and the Spanish won.
Later the volcano erupted many times. Nowadays scientists are monitoring it 24 hours a day.
Every year hundreds of climbers attempt to reach the summit of the volcano. About half of them succeed the other half surrender to the lack of preparation, the shortage of oxygen or the bad weather. As I was told, the ascent to Cotopaxi is not considered difficult, but nobody without experiment and training should ever try to climb it. Quito at 2850 m above sea level is a great introduction to acclimatization (Cotopaxi is about 80 km south of Quito).
You can access it by car. Our tourist guide drove us from Quito through the Machachi entrance (3200m).
There we changed cars and the mountain guide took us until the end of the road to the refuge (around 35 km). He drove very slowly and stopped several times for us to walk, take pictures, and above all to get used to the altitude.
It is fantastic to observe the different landscapes, starting with pine trees and how they get drier as we drive up.
When we reached the end of the road it was around 4500 meters. We could see the refuge perfectly (4880 m). People who try to climb the volcano should rest there and start the ascent just after midnight, when the snow is in better condition and the bridges over the crevasses are safer. My idea was never to climb the volcano, but to reach the refuge, which seemed so close. We left the car in the parking lot and started to climb...
The guide told me those hundred meters to reach the refuge could take me an hour. I only climbed around 100 meters.
Although I could still breathe normally, and I was talking a lot, I started feeling very tired, so I decided to go back to the car with Giovanny, the tourist guide from G Equa Tour.
|Pico El Águila|
In 2008 I was in Pico El Águila or Collado del Cóndor in Mérida, the Venezuelan Andes, which has a height of 4118m. Cotopaxi is the heighest place I have ever been
My husband tried a little further and the mountain guide told me he must have practiced sports in his youth, which he did, because he was taking it easily. Unfortunately it started to snow heavily and as he was not wearing proper clothes, which should include an impermeable jacket, they decided to come back, too.
On the way back to the entrance of the national park we stopped at a glacial lagoon, Limpiopungo, and also visited the interpretation centre.
Cotopaxi means “neck of the moon” in indigenous language. It is the second highest summit in Ecuador. Chimborazo is the highest. At 6310 m above sea level it is the closest point on Earth to the sun.