The summit of Cotopaxi. On the horizon in the distance is Chimborazo.

Cotopaxi in Ecuador

Cotopaxi, at 19,347 feet, is technically still an active volcano, but it has not stirred since 1877 and remains heavily glaciated.

Despite its impressive height and appearance, Cotopaxi is a quick and straightforward climb. Half-a-day up to the Ribas Hut, and then a midnight departure on a modest 3000 vertical feet up to the top.

What makes Ecuador such a great place to climb is the contrast: lush green valleys, peppered every dozen miles with a giant icy volcano. Spectacular.

The summit of Cotopaxi is the highest point on a tilted and icy crater rim. Looking down into the crater, at left, you suddenly realize you are indeed on an active volcano when you see the ring of ash that has melted the glacial ice around the lower rim. Planet Earth at its finest.