Volcano Cotopaxi (5897m), Ecuador


The ascent of the world highest active volcano ,


Cotopaxi, view from the village Latacunga (middle) and from the Guagua Pinchincha

Sometimes you doubtful ask yourself what I'm doing here, why we are doing this, what we are doing here actually?


Instead a Sylvester party somewhere in Quito, having fun in a discotheque or a bar, and Quito has a lot of great places to go, Gerhard Neumaier, Bernhard Bauer and Thorsten Boeckel were waiting under the cold roof at the Refugio José F. Ribas at 4800 o.sl for the start to the top. By having a rich meal (noodle-soup and a quarter litre of beer) we grumbled out of the window and conjured the clouds and the misarable weather. And so, the 'mattress-hearing'  began at 21.30 at the 21.30 at the sylvester day 1998. Beside us, five multi-national roped-parties which were waiting since six days for a good weather condition did also share the narrow sleeping room with us.

0.28 ..happy new year!!...all mountaineers are awake?... surprise!, the conditions have changed to its best, and now you can't imagine which chaos 30 people can arrange when they put on their equipment existing of crampons, 'climbing-belts', ice picks etc. .. without having enough space.     Very nice!

1.30 ...our three-man-rope-party is on the way, by reaching the first glacier tongues. Now you can see the new year festival parties in Quito, 70 km far away. Together with the pale light of the half-moon shining on the glittering glacier fields, and the fast moving clouds, it was an unforgettable fantastic impression.

3.00 ...reaching the altitude of 5250m, the star spaces between the now cloudy sky were disappearing  quickly and a thunderstorm reached the summit region very fast with dreadful flashes. The next half hour a very strong storm treated us by temperatures of -10°C. The wind is now so strong that up to 5 cm big ice parts loosen from the glacier surface hit us painful in our faces. The navigation now to the top is impossible. Sometimes we recognised  weakly the head-lights of the other rope parties, but are they on the right way...?

4.00...the thunder- lost his power, but the -storm was getting more terrible. Reaching the height of maybe 5500 m we stood in an wide ice plain without protection. Bernie's jacked was not perfectly wind- dense and so he needed to get protected during the walking brakes by our bodies to beware him of frost - bite.... It is dark and our to-the-top-orientated-body-movements couldn't defeat the coldness, ....we were waiting for the first morning light. In one hour we should reach a natural wind shelter.
5.00..appreciating the break of  wind currency behind an 30 m ice wall...
6.00...   we left the first steep passage (50°) behind us, and reached the 'big crevasse' on the elevation of  5780 m. Here we had to wait because two other groups were fighting against the very steep ice slope reaching now the inclination of nearly (60°). The wind speed was decreasing and we could enjoy the short break while discovering the first sun beams on the horizon. Recognising our green faces in the first light... we realised that the high altitude and oxygen deficiency took its toll?

Yes, we had been totally exhausted, but no one of us thought to give up. Not now.....

7.15...hooray, only 20 alti's to the top, but no free sight. A dense layer of clouds was covering the summit but a small taste of sulphur enriched the air. 

7.20...  reaching very, very lucky the summit of Cotopaxi, astonished that the clouds were also disap- pearing right now, each of us didn't found a word to describe the scenery of this aesthetic view over the big Bocca and whole Ecuador.


How can a year better starts.!!!




From right: G. Neumaier, B.Bauer, T.Boeckel

Sometimes you  get the answer for that what  you are doing here, why we are doing this, what we are really doing actually?

Dedicated to Bernhard Bauer and Gerhard Neumair


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©2002  photos and text by T.Boeckel, last modification 18.1.2005

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