Climbing Cotopaxi

In the next couple of days we will be posting all the great pictures from Chile, so I thought I would get this post up since it is overdue. I did not want to post it prior to going to Chile as it may have worried some of our readers. As many of you know from the hiking posts, I had been training to hike Cotopaxi, a glacier covered volcano just shy of 20,000 ft. Well the weekend of Dec. 12th was the date that was planned for. Eric, Diana, Dave and I set out Sat. morning in two SUVs with a couple trunks full of gear and three guides. We were stoked and ready to get going. We arrived around 11am on Sat at the parking lot of Cotopaxi and proceeded to gear up and put on our backpacks for the hike up to the refuge. We were only going up about 700 meters from 4100mts. to 4800mts. We made it without any incident and took a short break before beginning our crampons and ice axe training. We hiked up to the glacier and donned our gear and did the different drills our guides taught us and were done and having dinner by 5pm. We carb loaded with spaghetti and were in bed by 6pm. I was unable to fall asleep because of the early time, the high altitude and excitement of knowing that we would be hiking at 1am. It also didn’t help that the four of us were like kids at camping too amped to sleep and feeding off of each others energy. After what seemed like an eternity midnight came and we geared up headed out onto the pitch dark mountain, with headlights shining the way for us. After about 10min of hiking it began to sleet, which didn’t hinder any ones spirits as all four of us went to school in the Midwest it didn’t seem much worse than a hike to class. About 2 1/2 hours into the hike I had gotten over my initial adrenaline rush and was getting into a rhythm and was feeling like this would not be that difficult. But like all famous last words about 10 minutes later our lead guide collapsed in front of us. I immediately suspected a cramp but as he rolled over and yelled for us to call the rear guide up it dawned on me that we weren’t going to make it to the summit. As my light from our headlights soon revealed a rock had fallen and hit him in the side of the head. To make matters worse the rock missed his helmet by an inch. It had managed to find one of the few inches of exposed skin. We quickly became a roadblock in the trail as we tried to get him bandaged up and back down the mountain. We slowly traced our trek back to the refuge. We got down far faster than we went up. The two guides then went to the ER for stitches, while we waited in the refuge to see what would happen. So while I am disappointed that we did not summit we accomplished the golden rule of climbing and that is to always make it back safe and alive. Below are the few pictures that I was able to get.

Diana on the hike up to the Refuge.
Cotopaxi from the Refuge
Glacier training.
Me messing around with an ice axe.
Looking down from the glacier.
Looking up toward the summit.
A fox we saw on the way down from training, apparently a bad omen.
Diana with the guide before he headed to the ER.

2 thoughts on “Climbing Cotopaxi

  1. Wow, that's a lot of blood. Head wounds do that. Glad he was okay and that you were brave enough to turn around. Looks like a good climb; there will be other chances.


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