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Cotopaxi, (origin of name probably not Quechua, J. Anhalzer translates it to "headless poncho"). The most climbed mountain of Ecuador. Situated in its nationalpark 30 km southeast of Quito (see also topographical map Ecuador), surrounded by damp paramo. With 5897 m the second highest mountain of Ecuador, an aktive volcano (last eruption 1904), which showed significant warming 2003.

Trip to the Cotopaxi at the beginning of July without paraglider, with two friends, Michael and Phil. Some flights from the summit have been made already, more frequently though from just above the refuge down to the Laguna Limpiopungo.



Evening view of Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui, as seen from our sleeping place at the Corazon (photo by Kai Laufen).


The nice form of the volcano is best visible on a satellite image of the NASA (
Upper left the eroded crater of the Rumiñahui .


Close by the giant volcano looks rather low and easy to climb. This is a severe deception that occurs with many volcanos due to their conical shape and the even gradient of their slopes. The yellow buildings is the Refugio San Jose (4600 m). Rather empty at our arrival, sometimes however especially on weekends hopelessly overcrowded. The Ascent follows a path upwards from the refugio and spirals right around the cone avoiding the huge rock window seen above the Refugio.


Already pretty high up.


Just before sunrise at the summit. Only Antisana and Cayambe above the clouds.


Michael and Phil. The huge crater hole to the right.


Ice pictures at the descent.


Abrupt glacier end, early in the morning perhaps the most difficult part of the climb. Route slightly to the right not in the picture anymore. Time of the ascent approx 6 h, descent 2.5 h, under perfect conditions a not too difficult undertaking, this may change dramatically with new-fallen snow or abrupt wheather changes.



----------------------------------------------- With a paraglider above the Inca roads -----------------------------------------------