Of all the volcanoes in Ecuador Cotopaxi has caused the most death and destruction, completely destroying Latacunga three times in 1742, 1768 and 1877. It was first climbed by Wilhelm Reiss and Angel M Escobar in 1872. Today it is the most visited and climbed volcano in Ecuador. The climb is not technically difficult, but ropes, ice-axes and crampons are absolutely necessary. The climber must be in good physical condition and have the proper acclimatisation time. The climb may be attempted year round. The Cotopaxi area has the highest number of clear days per year in the Ecuadorian Andes and has an average nightly temperature of -15° C. The crater has a circumference of about 800 meters. Check out the video on the left.
Day 1: We meet at the Quito office at 08.30 for tea and coffee and a final gear check. Afterward we drive to our Hostel Valhalla just south of Machachi to have lunch, drop off any unneeded gear, and take a bathroom break. From the hostel we drive into Cotopaxi National Park and reach the car park at an altitude of 4600m. The José Ribas Refuge hut at 4800m is a 45 minute hike further up the mountainside. After something hot to drink and claiming a bunk, we will do some basic glacier training including different techniques of walking in crampons and using an ice axe. The adventure starts at midnight. We reach the glacier in about 45 minutes after leaving the hut. After roping up teams begin the glacier climb towards the large rock band known as Yanasacha (Large Black Rock) in Quechua, and then on towards the summit with an ascending time of 5-8 hours.
Day 2: This is from where we will enjoy the greatest views of the crater and the neighbouring peaks. The descend time is 3 hours. During the drive out of the park we stop at the small park museum (natural history, flora, fauna) to change clothes and where, if you still have any energy, the opportunity exists to hike the short nature trail. We arrive back in Quito around 3pm.
Also see tour packages in:
South America Ecuador Outdoor: Mountain Ranger Mountain/Rock Climbing Volcano Tours
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