Ascent of Volcán Cotopaxi on 2019-10-31

Climber: Peter Stone

Others in Party:Alice Caldwell
Paul Griffiths
Helen Harris
Ola Kaminska
Irwin Marmorat
Ashley Rubens
Matt Young
Jaime Avila
Marco Castillo
Mauricio Beltrán
Paul Guerra
Date:Thursday, October 31, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Volcán Cotopaxi
    Elevation:19347 ft / 5896 m

Ascent Trip Report

Part of a Jagged Globe/Andeanface trip to the mountains of Ecuador. A rewarding mixture of rocky and glaciated peaks in this beautiful and friendly country.

Cotopaxi is certainly one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, a Fuji-like symmetrical cone with the addition of a gorgeous location in the Avenue of the Volcanoes, ongoing geological activity and fascinating equatorial snow and ice formations.

Following warm-up hikes on Pasochoa, Pichincha-Rucu and Iliniza Norte and a successful ascent of Cayambe we drove via Machachi to Tambopaxi Lodge (Hostería Tambopaxi) in Cotopaxi National Park, elevation 3,750 metres, on the north side of the volcano. After spending a very comfortable night there, the following day we drove to the parking area at 4,600 metres and ascended on foot with sleeping bags and all climbing equipment to the mountain hut, Refugio José F. Rivas, elevation 4,864 metres. A usual midnight alpine start followed a brief period of rest. Difficult snow conditions necessitated a variation on the usual route to pass above several avalanche-prone slopes (via some rather sketchy ice/rock traverses) to gain the summit area. Just as on Cayambe I was astounded by the exuberant compositions of snow and ice compared to non-equatorial mountains I have climbed. Furthermore the active state of Cotopaxi resulted in sulphurous gases as we approached the summit so powerful at times that it provoked sustained coughing episodes and eye-streaming but sheer determination and the skill of the guides got the whole party to the top. Views were tantalisingly fleeting but between the swirling clouds we could appreciate the beautiful summit crater and Chimborazo in the distance as well as more minor volcanoes closer by. In descent the amazing multi-hued volcanic landscape laid out before us was certainly impressive. A brief breakfast at the hut then descent to the lodge for hot showers and further refreshments.

A new altitude record for me by 2 metres but a harsh reminder of the dangers of the mountain came 3 days later with news of a Swiss woman's death after falling into a crevasse.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4156 ft / 1266 m
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Headlamp, Ski Poles, Guide, Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4156 ft / 1266 m
    Start Trailhead:Parking lot.  15191 ft / 4630 m
Descent Statistics

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