Our first view of Cotopaxi. The meaning of the name isn't well-established, but my favorite translation is "Necklace of the Moon".
The parking area is really high, at about 15,100 feet. From there, it's a short 20 - 30 minute hike to the refuge at 15,800 feet.
The refuge was about three times the size of Illiniza refuge, but also much busier.
A look at the glacier.
The North Face of Cotopaxi, our ascent route.
The route heads up this broad ridge, weaving its way around multiple crevasses. It bypasses the intimidating Yanasacha Wall to its right.
We stayed in the refuge Wednesday night and left the refuge at 1:10am.
For this climb, we broke into two groups due to the pretty drastic differences in climbing speed. Anna and I would climb with Hugo, a reticent but badass guide. Mom and Dad would climb with Wilson.
We let Hugo set the pace, so we would arrive at the summit exactly at 6am (sunrise). This pace was slower than our natural pace, but it was nice because we got to enjoy the beautiful glacier in the moonlight.
I didn't get good pictures of the ascent because of the darkness and my ineptitude with photography.
We took a 20-30 minute break only 15 minutes from the summit because we were a bit ahead of schedule. We didn't want it to be dark when we were on the summit, if nothing else, because it would be frigid.
We reached the summit at exactly 6am. Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world (# 3, after a couple in Chile, I think).
This is a view of the beautiful crater, which drops about 2000 feet from the summit.
The smell of sulfur was strong.
Illiniza Sur and Norte.
Hugo on the summit.
Cayambe, 18,993 feet.
Antisana, 18,891 feet.
¡Tenemos la cumbre!
We left the summit after about 20 minutes because it was super cold (-10 to -20 Fahrenheit).
Wilson heading down the crux of the route, a short section of 55 degree snow.
I definitely downclimbed this part facing in (front-pointing), but then again, I'm not Hugo.
A cool ice formation.
The nice thing about climbing near the equator: the North Face actually gets some sunshine.
The glacier was so cool!
Beautiful weather (it would snow in the afternoon, though).
You can see Cayambe in the background, far right.
We were the first on the summit but this party wasn't far behind. Though it looks like they are going up, they are actually coming down, but bypassing the crevasse with a short climb.
Antisana (close, right side) and Cayambe (far, middle). I'm not sure what the shorter peak on the left is.
We couldn't see Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest peak (20,702 feet) because it was hidden in clouds. It would be somewhere to the behind us, out of the photo.
Nearing the refuge.
Quilindaña (16,004 feet)
Lest you thought I forgot my bitchin' glacier glasses.
Anna and Hugo heading down the final snow slope.
We reached the hut at 7:55 am.
A party coming off the summit at around 8am. Our parents and Wilson were on the summit sometime around then.
Wilson and Hugo, our guides and new friends.
After Cotopaxi, we biked to a lodge in a "cloud-forest" (montane rainforest), and would spend a day looking at birds. I might post some pictures at some point, but right now, I'm sick with some sort of stomach bacteria and I don't have the energy to post any more. Sorry.