The perfect cone-shaped Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. More than 87 eruptions, some very powerful, have been recorded since 1534. Its last eruption took place in 2015. Two years later the volcano was reopened for climbing, but Cotopaxi is far from dormant. It is quite common to smell sulfur and observe steam emissions from the snow-covered crater.
Rising at 5897 m / 19347 ft Cotopaxi is the second highest summit of Ecuador and popular among experienced mountaineers and beginners. The ascent on large snow fields with crevasses and ice seracs is physically demanding, but imagine the thrill of standing on the summit at sunrise! From the top you can enjoy extensive panoramic views of the volcanic crater, the entire Volcano Avenue and even Quito.
A proper altitude acclimatization and physical fitness are the key to success. Even though Cotopaxi is not considered a technically difficult climb, it does involve the use of crampons, ice axe and rope. On the first day our guide will teach you the basics of glacier hiking.
Cotopaxi is climbable all year round; please note that the climbing route is subject to variations due to the weather and snow conditions that sometimes change fast.
Departure from Riobamba at 9.00 by car and drive for about 2 hours to Cotopaxi National Park. Continue for another 30 kilometers to the parking lot at 4600 m / 15092 ft. After a 50-minute hike we arrive at the José Rivas refuge at 4800 m / 15748 ft. In the afternoon the guide will teach you how to use the equipment in a climbing practice. Dinner will be served early, afterwards there is time to get a few hours of sleep.
After a coca tea with a light snack, we start the ascent around midnight. After an approach of 1,5 hours, we reach the glacier and put on crampons. The glacier slopes have an average steepness of 30 – 35 degrees. We will cross several crevasses and negotiate a few ice seracs before reaching Yanasacha (Black Rock) for the final challenging stretch, with a steepness of 35 – 40 degrees. At the summit you can enjoy the amazing views of the crater and the Volcano Avenue with other snowcapped peaks. The descent to the refuge takes about 3 hours. On the way back to Riobamba we will have lunch in a restaurant. Arrive at about 14.00.