Climbing Cotopaxi in Ecuador

It is not easy to not think about Cotopaxi when going to Ecuador. One of the goal of the trip was to include the most popular summit after going for a few smaller ones: Cotopaxi (5897 m / 19,347 ft)

The sky opening-up on the Cotopaxi

It was raining hard when at the park entrance but luckily got more mellow as we arrived at the parking, then even stopped. The shape of Cotopaxi brought reminiscences of Mt Rainier (albeit smaller despite being taller).

Followed a 20 min hike up to the refuge (4864 m /15960 ft!).

Rumiñahui in the background, which we attempted the first day of the trip (aborted 20 min before the summit as scrambling under hail and rain was to slippery for us).

The refuge is almost at the same altitude as Mont Blanc!

A much bigger and more modern refgue than for the Ilizinas, but the food subpar (just the brownie maybe) and a more “commercial / touristy” atmosphere. We were still happy and got to sleep in the outside quarters, even if it was again not possible for me to sleep at this altitude.

After picked-up a last brioche of we went for the climb at 1am.

We left last and managed to pass most of the parties at the end of the first phase, before hitting steeper terrain and putting the crampons.

The very summit with an overlook on the crater and the Ilinizas

The overall climb was not technical and the trail simple to follow but you can count on several steep (windier) top sections. We made the way up smoothly in 4 hours (general times are in the 6–7 hours). This gave us 1 “cold” hour “to kill” (running up and down or doing push-ups) on the summit before the sunrise.

Pointing Antisana, the next climb of the trip

The downhill was amazing as we got a pure blue sky and passing ascendin gparties was simple. The seracs and ice/snow features were art pieces.

Finally the well awaited sun
Cayambe and Antisana floating on the sea of clouds

Only 1h30 to go down without rushing much and savoring the view (and warmth).

We managed to be in short/T-shirt somehow at the refuge. We were too early for breakfast but had one more brownie somehow and continued down the short trail to the parking.

Climbing up had a few step parts and a few sustained sections, good for warming-up as everything (from water bottles to toes/fingers) was freezing getting closer to the summit. The crater is not walkable like Rainier but the view on top is sublime and well worth the effort!




Trips & treks, kayak, packraft, climbing, mountaineering adventures around World

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Romain Rigaux

Romain Rigaux

Adventuring & Smart Data Querying |

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