Volcan Cotopaxi

Volcan Cotopaxi

This is a 19,300 foot strato-volcano south of Quito Ecuador and as with all of the mountains I climbed it was possible to drive a 4-wheel drive vehicle up to around 14,000 feet.
Cotopaxi – part 1: This was a hike with my wife Sue, and Graciela, one of the three exchange students we had hosted from Ecuador. After parking her father’s land rover at the the Parqueadero we hiked to the Refugio (climber’s hut) at approximately 15,800 feet. I got hooked on the climbing experience and so we started making plans for a return visit. Which Sue and I did the following year. By then I had met and hired a professional climbing Guide, Edison Ona. During that trip Edison and I climbed Volcan Ilnizi South to around 14,000 feet when I realized how unprepared I was, including dealing with a ‘bad’ knee – from my running days.
Cotopaxi – part 2: Second attempt was a few days after our son John flew to Quito. He and I with Francisco, a climbing partner of Edison’s, made an attempt on Cotopaxi. We got as far as the Refugio where Sue and I had hiked the year before when my knee gave out. I think packing around 40 pounds may have had something to do with that. It was a great disappointment for John, my son, as he was really pumped for the climb.
Cotopaxi – part 3: Came a year later after much physical training and preparation. That trip involved 5 summit attempts within a 16 day period. Cotopaxi again defeated me however this time it was a combination to bad weather, hail, thunder and lightning, and especially due to altitude sickness from spending a few days on Volcan Chimborazo between 16-17,000 feet acclimating for the climb on Cotopaxi. Probably eating and drinking with water from a glacier contributed to getting sick. Want an experience? Try throwing up at that kind of altitude while trying to catch your breath! Wow!!

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