Photo by Karl Gemperli, all rights reserved.

Cotopaxi is the second highest mountain in Ecuador. For years Cotopaxi was the world's highest active volcano, however Chile's Tupungato (21,489 ft.) is a higher mountain, and awakened from its dormancy with an eruption in 1986.

Cotopaxi is a symmetrical cone rising over 10,000 feet above the surrounding plateau. Although it is located fewer than fifty miles from the equator, the high precipitation of the region maintains a perpetual snow cap on the summit. The summit crater frequently releases steam, and eruptions have been well documented for several centuries. The earliest historical eruptions were in 1532 and 1533, and the mountain has erupted frequently since. The most violent eruptions were in 1742, 1743, 1744, 1746, 1768, 1803, and 1877. The eruption of 1744 was reportedly heard as distant as 500 miles away. The eruption of 1877 reportedly caused complete darkness at 8 am. in Quito, Ecuador's capital city. More recent but relatively minor eruptions have occurred throughout the twentieth century.

The capital city of Quito is surrounded by towering volcanos, two of the highest being Cotopaxi (35 miles south) and Cayambe (40 miles northeast). Cotopaxi's proximity to the city, and its proximity to the Pan-American Highway, which runs twelve miles east of the mountain, makes this one of the most accessible high mountains in the Andes.

Elevation (feet): 19,347
Elevation (meters): 5,897
Continent: South America
Country: Ecuador
Range/Region: Ecuador Andes
Latitude: -0.680556
Longitude: -78.437778
Difficulty: Basic Snow/Ice Climb
Best months for climbing: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Dec
Most recent eruption: 1904
Year first climbed: 1872
First successful climber(s): Dr. Wilhelm Reiss, A.M. Escobar
Nearest major airport: Quito, Ecuador
Convenient Center: Quito, Ecuador

Trip Reports

There are 47 trip reports for Cotopaxi.

  • Log #1369 - by robert krenn on July 28, 20043.00 stars
    in extreme conditions. snowing and gailforce winds. together with my guide we where the only one to summit on this day. arr there at 06:10hrs, departed from the refugio at 01:15hrs.
  • Log #1370 - by Annette Deist on July 09, 20043.00 stars
    It was one of the most overhelming experiences I've had so far in my life - but I've to say that I had never been so high up in the mountains before... It was hard, especially the last 200 m, where...
  • Log #1371 - by Drew Wolfe on June 15, 20043.00 stars
    An absolutely spectacular climb, and as clear a night and day as we could have wanted. Summit view was unbelievable, and sunrise over the Andean plateau was truly magestic. Thanks to Ray, Scott,...
  • Log #1372 - by Blair Main, Heinz Weigelt, Da Richmond on Apr 24, 20043.00 stars
    Tried the South Route "Casa Sur" after a few days of hiking around. Had to turn around approx 100 m from peak due to avalanche danger (actually the plate settled with us on it). Found this...
  • Log #1373 - by Iaki Lasa on Mar 30, 20043.00 stars
    Great experience. Little tougher than expected and not the best conditions but the sights when the weather cleared up were breath taking.
  • Log #1374 - by hermann keese, linda kernmaier on Mar 10, 20043.00 stars
    we climbed this peak over the south route. we found a windy base camp near the beginning of the glacier. we make a high camp at 5300 and stay one week there before climb the summit.
  • Log #1375 - by eamonn devine on Feb 19, 20043.00 stars
    ages since i climbed this mountain, almost a year. summited with a friend of mine, Johnathon, about 7.30 in the morning. both totally wasted, but chuffed to bits.
  • Log #1376 - by Dana Totman on Feb 11, 20043.00 stars
    Our guide was Cesar Reno Roman from Guias de Montana and he was great. Terrific mountain.
  • Log #1378 - by Iaki Lasa on Jan 13, 20043.00 stars
    It was hailing and snowing on the afternoon of the 8th. Conditions seemed like it was not going to be possible to summit on the 9th. However it cleared about midnight and we took off. I was my first...
  • Log #1379 - by Ben Boykin on Jan 12, 20043.00 stars
    You probably don't need a guide for this. In 2001, there was a ladder installed to bridge the huge bergschrund on the final headwall below the summit
  • Log #1380 - by Juan Pablo Atiaga on Jan 07, 20043.00 stars
    Better if trip starts early (12:30 am)
  • Log #1381 - by Vlad Broz on Jan 06, 20043.00 stars
    Fourth attempt, second summit. This one was very special because my son, Marko, accompanied me for my 60th birthday celebratory climb. Gabriel Llano (Safari Tours) was our guide again and even...
  • Log #1382 - by Vlad Broz on Jan 06, 20043.00 stars
    My 2nd attempt and 1st summit was in MAR of 98 with Edison as my guide. The usual drill of out-the-door at 0100 and hiked 1000' (300m) up the moraine to the glacier under beautiful full moon...
  • Log #1383 - by S. Peres on Dec 11, 20033.00 stars
    I used to work in Quito as a Sus-chef. One of my good friends Jaime a restaurant owner invited me to try to climb this volcano. We were droped near a lake named Mulalo, from there was only us. After...
  • Log #1384 - by Bethany Davidson on Dec 01, 20033.00 stars
    Reaching the summit of Cotopaxi was one of the most memorable moments in my life. Not only was the view incredible but the climb to the top was both challenging and exhilarating. For anyone...
  • Log #1385 - by phoebe on Nov 11, 20033.00 stars
    i just climbed cotopaxi!!!!!!it was v.cold an hard but i made it in the end.E-mail me if u have climbed it too we can share experiences! remeber to wrap up warm if you want to clib this volcano!
  • Log #1386 - by Tim Cross on Nov 09, 20033.00 stars
    Good weather and great snow conditions. I love Ecuador
  • Log #1387 - by andre de jonge on Oct 30, 20033.00 stars
    nog hoger voor my (Toen) en iets technieser dan in mexico.
  • Log #1388 - by Frans van Bohemen on Sep 20, 20033.00 stars
    Hey everyone! I've been for an exchange year en Ecuador, great country! Me and some friends and a guide did three attempts to the summit, once a friend gave up, second time the wheather stopped us,...
  • Log #1389 - by Jaime on Sep 08, 20033.00 stars
    Nice climb, no real technical difficulties. beware of numerous crevasses. Acclimatise well and wait for the weather. The sound of the wind inside the hut can be demoralising but it's worth going up...
  • Log #1390 - by Peter Lunka on Aug 21, 20033.00 stars
    The summit of Cotopaxi is not technically difficult, however, it is a physically demanding climb: because of the altitude, snow and weather. The only advice I would give is, if you are a budget...
  • Log #1391 - by Noah Dentzel on Aug 18, 20033.00 stars
    HEY, Im only 15 and I climbed Cotopaxi to the TOP. It was really hard but I recommend not misjudgeing it because it looks really small from the bottom when its actually a really big mountain,...
  • Log #1392 - by MARTY Richard on Aug 07, 20033.00 stars
    My first high summit and I hope not the last. Departure of the refuge with 1h top with 7H. Two days before we had made central Rumi3ahui (4700m approximately) to perfect our acclimatization, thing...
  • Log #1393 - by Charlotte Putz on July 30, 20033.00 stars
    It is good to leave the hut early to avoid traffic jams. There was just a little ice at the beginning and then the snowconditions were perfect. Nice big crevasses that could easily be avoided....
  • Log #1394 - by Bauer Jurgen on July 28, 20033.00 stars
    My friend Michael,our guide Israel and I started at the hut at about 1 pm and reached the top at 7.30. The weather was fine and we could sea a lot of surrounding tops and a eruption of Mt....
  • Log #1395 - by roy maiberger on July 20, 20033.00 stars
    great wheather day at the summit . not a technical hard montain . this one opened my appetite for the hights . if someone from israel reads this and want to get in touch about future climbs ,find...
  • Log #1396 - by Michael Liebreich on July 19, 20033.00 stars
    Two of us fought our way up in horrible weather with a local guide. Couldn't see much. Came straight down. The other guy got frostbite on his fingers.
  • Log #1397 - by Joseph M. Cheben on July 12, 20033.00 stars
    My son Sean and I summited along with Annica Ekman and our two guides Rene Flores and Maurisimo from Safari. We spent about 10 days acclimitizing by first doing a couple of 10-12 mile hikes at...
  • Log #1398 - by Brad Alsoren on July 10, 20033.00 stars
    Summited in the dark because I left the hut too early. Really easy hike/climb.
  • Log #1399 - by Alain Uginet on June 18, 20033.00 stars
    The ascenssion was quite difficult, but the sommit is very nice. I don't have any regret to have spent at least 2 months to prepare myself by climbing various sommits in France and Equator. I think...
  • Log #1401 - by Matt Peters on May 29, 20033.00 stars
    I am envious of those who had good weather. We had hurricane force winds pummeling us with ice the entire way. Only after rising above 18,500 feet were we able to see unobstructed sky. It was an...
  • Log #1402 - by Rick on May 26, 20033.00 stars
    Great hike, but of course exhausting. Used Moggley Climbing out of Quito and they were A1. Our guides Pato and Abraham were awesome!! 6h15m.
  • Log #20841 - by Mike Lakotish on June 23, 20073.00 stars
    This is a fantastic climb in a fantastic country. International Mountain Guides does an amazing job with this trip, working in visits to Otovalo and banos (a must) before and after the climb....
  • Log #21508 - by André Hartmann on Nov 09, 20083.00 stars
    I did a booked tour with a local climbing school.
  • Log #19153 - by Mike Lakotish on Feb 14, 20063.00 stars
    Summited in crappy weather. Didn't see a thing the entire time but we could somewhat make out the crater on the summit. Once again International Mountain Guides did a fantastic job. This is a...
  • Log #18771 - by Frederic Lavoie on Feb 14, 20063.00 stars
    Excellente montagne pour débuter! Il y a beaucoup de monde, la voie est tracée et les crevasses sont impressionnantes, mais bien visibles. Malheureusement, nous ne sommes que 3 sur 7 à avoir...
  • Log #19300 - by Colm O'Dwyer on Nov 14, 20063.00 stars
    Ran up in 4.5 hours and spent an hour on the summit watching the sunrise. Shadow of the mountain casted across ecuador, all other volcanos seen from the summit. Route was fairly easy, although steep...
  • Log #20524 - by Kurt Wibbenmeyer on Dec 05, 20063.00 stars
    We climbed in the dark and reached the summit at sunrise over the Amazon. We were able to see into the crater
  • Log #20624 - by Herbert Sulzer on Jan 24, 20073.00 stars
    I climbed this mountain in a party of about twelve including an ecuadorian guide more than 30 years ago beeing 16 years old. The guide and me were the only ones to reach the summit at noon. I saw...
  • Log #20770 - by Shay Logan on May 07, 20073.00 stars
    I took the normal route, was the first person on the summit that day, and saw the sunrise from there. Probably the most enjoyable mountain of its size that I have climbed.
  • Log #21188 - by brian scantamburlo on Feb 12, 20083.00 stars
    a classic climb with tremendous views of the surrounding volcanos. there is nothing like being above cloud level, in the sun, and seeing the peaks of the neighboring mtns breaking the clouds. ecuador...
  • Log #21731 - by boblelieur on Aug 07, 20093.00 stars
    Most beautiful volcano I have climbed
  • Log #21868 - by JosephBohlig on Jan 29, 20103.00 stars
    What a great climb! At 1:15am Myself(Joe), my buddy Scott and our guide Jorge left the Jose Rivas hut and headed up the mountain. Just as we were reaching the glacier my partner started experiencing...
  • Log #21890 - by Christian Rodriguez on Feb 13, 20103.00 stars
    Awesome experience, Siomara Pineda, Douglas Leonardo and me climbed successfully this beauty volcano. That day was clear, no wind just cold and really amazing views. We spent 6 hours to the summit,...
  • Log #22056 - by Feli Pro on Aug 22, 20103.00 stars
    Very stormy climb. The route of Cotopaxi summit is significantly easy. However this night nature was against us. 12 or 13 groups departed from the Refugio (mountian shelter) at 12 am.
  • Log #22395 - by cissa on July 24, 20133.00 stars
    Beautiful mountains as well, windy ascent all the way. The problem here is that there's way too many people on this mountain, all the time, everywhere.
  • Log #22400 - by Agnese on Aug 19, 20133.00 stars
    We started just after midnight from the Refuge José Rivas at 4864 m. The night was partly cloudy. A short walk on the moraine led us to a first tongue of glacier that we easily crossed with crampons...