Iced caped or red hot volcanoes, tiny or gigantic volcanoes, Ecuador has them all! 8 out of the numerous volcanoes here are glaciers, with the most famous being Chimborazo – the Highest Mountain in the World! What about Everest??? Well Chimborazo is higher only when the height is measured from the center of the earth!
Mountaineering is pretty big in Ecuador and due to a few deaths the Ecuadorian government has recently put into effect a law that prohibits trekkers to climb over 5000m without a Guide. In any case we made it up the rocky and steep Lliniza Norte, made a nice romantic photo at the top and that was the end of any more summit photos!
The most popular of all the volcanoes is Cotopaxi-5897m. Climbers need to start at 12pm, yes, at Midnight when it’s freezing and dark out, and be back before the sun gets too strong and the ice bridges on the glacier start melting. Anyway we made it to about 5600m but I was missing a pickaxe and the going became too steep and dangerous to go on without it. Somewhere along the way some ice and snow fell and made a loud thundering sound that was pretty freaky since it was dark and not much was visible. In any case the rising sun was welcoming and warm, but the new light also exposed the rough and jagged terrain that was all around. When I saw how many deep and treacherous crevasses had been disguised in the shadows of the night, it was not only my lips that puckered up! :-)
And then there was Chimborazo, the roughest of them all. We drove way up to this huge white monster, camped out below it on the backside where tourists don’t exist, hiked up only to the begging of the glacier and spent our time doing less adventurous activities such as take photos of wild Lamas! :)
We took a break for a few days from the chilly mountain climate to warm up in natural hot springs in Banos. Other than just hanging around with other overlanders, we had a chance to watch the active volcano Tungurahua. It was a pretty good show with fireballs, sizzling lava, rumbling and shaking. And one morning we even had volcano ash for breakfast after a mini eruption. Anyway it made the news, and for us it was time to leave!