By Jonathan Cain
The trade off for more sleep at Cotopaxi will be a longer climb come morning; since the smaller, less crowded lodge we’re staying in is at a lower altitude than the rowdy hut. We got up at 11:00PM to begin our ascent to the summit of Cotopaxi (19,347 ft). There’s been lightning in the east from the time we left the lodge and at this altitude there’s an endless stream of shooting stars and countless constellations. Because of Cotopaxi’s almost perfectly conic shape, the climb appears be a straight line to the top. It isn’t. In fact, the climb winds past spires of ice and vast blue crevasses the size of small canyons. Cotopaxi is a beautiful mountain.
It’s perfect weather on the summit and we stay long enough to take in the unique view of Quito and the surrounding mountains. Our acclimatization climbs are now complete! Tomorrow, it’s whitewater rafting in Baños and then the reason we’re here…to place a weather station on the point farthest from the center of the earth. Chimborazo.