The Cotopaxi


The Cotopaxi is with 5897 m the second highest mountain in Ecuador and one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. While active, it is the most frequently climbed mountain in the country and one of the most visited peaks in South America.


The Cotopaxi is located in the eponymous national park in the same Ecuadorian province of Cotopaxi about 50 kilometers south of Quito. It belongs to the "Avenue of the Volcanoes" in the eastern Andes.

As an Ecuadorian mountain of Chimborazo is higher but not more volcanically active with 6310 m. As the world's highest active volcano at the moment involves 6893 m high Ojos del Salado in Argentina / Chile.

Through its regular, conical shape and the ice cap on the top of Cotopaxi corresponds to the ideal image of a stratovolcano. The crater at the summit a diameter of 800 meters × 550 meters and is about 350 meters deep.


The name Cotopaxi means " Neck of the Moon", as rises from a certain perspective of the moon behind the mountain. For a short time the moon as the "head " is available directly through the summit. The snowy part of the mountain can be seen as a poncho.

The indigenous peoples of the region was the mountain before the start of the Inca rule in the 15th century as a holy mountain. He was worshiped as a rain donor and thus guarantee the fertility of the land and as the seat of gods.

The first Europeans who tried to climb the mountain, Alexander von Humboldt was in 1802. He reached a height of about 4500 m. 1858 Moritz Wagner investigated the mountain, but he also did not reach the summit. Up to the summit reached on 27 November 1872, the geologist Wilhelm tear. 1873 ascended Moritz Alphons Stübel, 1880 Edward Whymper Cotopaxi. The ascent by the painter Rudolf Reschreiter and Hans Meyer in 1903 became known. Reschreiter made ​​several paintings of the mountain on.


Today, the Cotopaxi is climbed almost daily. For ascents are offered with mountain guides by Ecuadorian travel agencies; a permit is not required. This can be driven up to 4658 m by car today. At 4800 meters above sea level is the José Ribas refuge - where tourists can stay and starts from where the ascent shortly after midnight. Experienced and acclimatized climbers need for the climb on the normal route between six and eight hours. Climate change and glacier retreat has associated the route in recent years made ​​it more difficult; they must be assessed at present (January 2012 ) with II / PD.


Since 1738 the Cotopaxi has erupted about 50 times. Of these, the most violent eruptions were those of 1744, 1768 and 1877. The great eruption in 1877 melted the summit glacier off completely, so that the resulting mudslide the surrounding land more than 100 km wide and flooded the city of Latacunga destroyed completely.

The last major eruption was in 1904, followed by several small eruptions until 1940. The last major activity in 1975-76 was an increase in temperature, smoke, and smaller earthquakes. Also today is often seen to smoke emissions.


View from the side of the mountain.

Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui.

José Ribas Refugio at 4800 m.

Crossing the central column area on 5.450 meters above sea level the normal route.

Flora at Cotopaxi

Sedifolia Gentiana ( gentian plants)

Halenia weddeliana ( gentian plants)

Gentianella cerastioides

Chuquiraga jussieui ( Asteraceae )