I can’t believe we leave for Cotopaxi tomorrow! Although I am confident that we have properly acclimatized, and I trust in our guides, but the route to the top of this 5897m symmetrical dormant volcano is covered in snow and glaciers.
Cotopaxi National Park is the most visited park in Ecuador second to the Galapagos. The volcano itself is one of the highest volcanoes in the world, and was also extremely destructive during its active period.
We’ll be meeting the guide tomorrow morning at 8:30am to drive several hours to the park entrance and part of the way up the mountain, to where there is a parking lot. From there it’s an hour hike to the José F. Ribas refuge (4800m), from which we will make our summit bid. The rest of the afternoon will be devoted to practicing some glacier skills and self arrests, and getting to bed really EARLY! We’ll wake up Tuesday morning (mon night) at midnight, setting out for the summit at 1am.
We set out early in the evening because we hope to summit by sunrise, so that during the day when it heats up, we can avoid the destabilized snow and ice. It should take about 6-8 hrs to ascend, navigating crevasses and doing some moderate ice climbing. Once achieving the summit, we will hopefully have a clear view of the surrounding area and down into the crater at the top, which will be steaming with sulfurous fumes. It’ll take about half the time for our descent.
Wish us luck! I will not be posting tomorrow night as I will be on the mountain and preparing for our rigorous and exhilarating climb 🙂