Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cotopaxi......solo

Looking back down to the parking lot from the refuge.  This was bare, dry dirt/rock on the way up....then it dumped 5cm

A group ahead me, on a fixed rope.  I've always wanted to solo Cotopaxi and I tried it about 4 years ago and turned back about 300 vertical meters from the summit (The refuge is 4800m and the summit about 5900m) due to too some exposure I wasn't comfortable with.  The route changes at least every year, and one simply follows the path made by previous parties.  Of course a snow bridge over a crevasse could break at anytime and a slip on a steep section without being able to self arrest could be "problematic" as well.  :) 
Sunrise over the Amazon with Antisana in the foreground
....and getting lighter.....didn't wait for the sunrise shot though, as the route continued on the west side of the volcano.  I was the last one out of the refuge at 2am under a moon that was 2 days past full....perfect, above head moon shadow....no headlamp required except for the tricky bits.   There were about 30 other climbers!  Some didn't make it.....passed others on the way up and got to the top at 7am.  45min on top and 2.5 down in blazing sun.
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Cotopaxi's shadow to the west, with the Illinizas in the background.
As it gets shorter.....
....and shorter
Note the climbers on the ridge
A group approaching the summit
Yiippeeeee!
Summit crater
Views down to the Amazon
Views to the north....Cayambe in the back LHS and Anitana on the RHS
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Climbers heading back down
....and some more (looks like a road to the right!  That's the shadow of my legs and a trail that has split in two)
Yanasacha (black rock in kechwa language).  Which one can see from Quito
Climbers heading down
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Have to move quickly through this area, with the sun warming things up quickly.  This is why Cotopaxi and other large glaciated volcanoes near the equator are climbed at night. 
Convoluted route.  Note the fixed rope at bottom right.
Had to jump a few crevasses
This was worrisome, as the LHS overhangs by about 3feet! 
This snow bridge still intact

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