Cotopaxi is a stratovolcano with an almost symmetrical cone located about 60 km southeast of Quito. Loosely translated from the Incan Quechua language, it means "smooth neck of the moon." At roughly 19,347 feet, it is Ecuador's second highest mountain, but highest active volcano, and the world's 6th highest active volcano. It has erupted 50 times since 1738. In 1877 there was a major eruption that melted snow and ice on the summit that produced mudflows 60 miles from the volcano. Volcanic fragments (rocks, ash, pumice, etc) mixed with water, produced a lahar that reached the Pacific ocean via rivers. The most recent eruption was in 1904 but the most recent activity was in 1975-76 when there was an increase in steam emissions, melting snow, and small earthquakes.

Exiting the van a short distance from the hut. for about an hour we drove through the Cotopaxi national park which looked like a moonscape. It is just a large lava field with rocks ejected from the eruptions. The black dirt was most likely old ash and mud from years ago.

Hiking up an ash or pumice path to the hut. As you can see, the weather was once again not too good.
(l to r) Diana, Joey (front), and Jim

That's me with the red pack

The Jose Ribas hut (at about 15,750 feet)

The back of the hut later that afternoon (fresh snow and clouds)

The dining area. That's our stuff on the table to the right.

Part of the kitchen where the guides made dinner. That's Jim in the blue jacket.

Diana and me just prior to leaving for the climb at 1 a.m.

Hernan getting prepared

Several hours into the climb. That's Eva and Hernan.

Diana behind me on the rope

Finally on top after 6 1/2 hours. That's #2. Once again, though, absolutely no visibility

On the summit - (l to r) Diana, Eva, and Hernan

Close to the hut on our return we came across a fox out hunting. I was suprised to see him (or she) so high up on the mountain. This spot is around the 16,000 foot level.

Eva and I finally made it back at the hut. Joey (back to the camera) came back down with Jim after a few hours due to some problems Jim was having with a chest infection.

Me and Hernan a few minutes after returning to the hut

The best shot of Cotopaxi we had came the following morning from La Cienega. Still surrounded by clouds but at least part of it was visible. There is a large black spot near the center top of the mountain. This is the 400-foot rock wall Yanasacha. We approached from the left side, went to the right side of the rock wall, and then up to the summit.

The following pictures come from various sites on the web