One of my key ambitions when moving to Ecuador was to climb some of the amazing peaks that the country has in abundance. It's utterly amazing how many beautiful peaks there are along the "Avenue of the Volcanos" that stretches down the center. The fact that you can be at the base of them in less then two hours from Quito means that opportunities for weekend trips abound
With its almost perfect count shape and a relatively flat plan surrounding it on all sides that offers amazing views of the peak, Volcan Cotopaxi is one of the most iconic. It's also relatively easy to climb - basically a hike across the glacier from the refugio. But it's still 5,897m / 19,347ft high. The weather can get nasty. Oh and its still an active volcano - one of the highest in the world. But damn if it wasn't cool to be up there. I'm hooked and ready for more.
I had the good fortune to train with good friends and have the support of the local guides who have done the climb for years - some of them have done these mountains hundreds of times.
Our trip was capped by a chance encounter with some of the luminaries of climbing on our way out. As we were leaving, a group of folks who clearly knew what they were doing were heading up - some with skis. As it turned out, well known mountaineer Adrian Ballinger and top climber Emily Harrison were celebrating their wedding with a little jaunt to the top of the mountain. Among the guests was Alex Honnald - of Free Solo fame. I'm not usually one to be star struck, but that was pretty cool. :)