02 / MT.COTOPAXI, EQUADOR 1996 summer
At 5897m above sea level, Mt Cotopaxi is the tallest active volcano in the world.Although it’s not a difficult mountain to climb, this peak is also supposed to be the farthest away from the core of this planet as the Earth is not a perfect sphere.
We set our timing to the late March full moon and departed the capital of Ecuador, Quito, located at 2850m above sea level. We would acclimatize ourselves to the altitude by repeating the process of going up, spending some time, and coming back down. As we made it to the hut located at 4800m in the afternoon of the day before of our scheduled peak attack, I crawled into my sleeping bags when the sun was setting. My heart was pounding and I was out of breath. I took some aspirin in attempt to calm my pain, but only barely managed to get some sleep and left the hut around midnight and started our way to the peak. The sky was filled with glittering stars and a big round full moon. As we got closer to the peak, we could see some peaks sticking their heads up above the clouds in the afar of the Andes. The glorious moon shining above the groveling clouds in contrast with the black shadows of the bleak mountains faces.
Our fates were put in with the guide’s fate through a single rope and we were approaching the peak in the twilight. As the sun started to rise above the sea of clouds, I felt as if the weight of my fully loaded backpack was gone for a second. The sunrise glow only lasts for a few moments on this equatorial mountain. As the sun rose almost perpendicularly, I suddenly remembered the presence of the full moon. Looking back trying to find it, the long shadows of the mountains were like an arrow pointing towards the setting full moon.
We finally made our way to the peak and, under the aegis of this splendid mountain, we were accepted to trace a few beautiful tracks appropriate to the magnificence of this temple.