January 3rd 2009 we woke up rested and started out late to Cotopaxi. We stopped off at a market for food and me and Chris bought playing cards which we should have known to pack. Sitting in a hut can get boring so bring some cards and learn a game a bit more challenging than Crazy 8's. We also bought our sandals which we should have packed as well but in the spirit of always trying to pack light we figured we would just stay in our climbing boots but that quickly becomes uncomfortable. So we spent the rest of our trip eating out in our blue slippers. Sorry no pictures. Just a note on logistics for these climbs. From this day on we leave Quito and do not return until the end of the trip so any items you leave behind are gone until then. With 6 days left I ended up leaving more than I should. Be aware of this and if you can pack a small bag which you can leave in the truck with extra clothing for when you come down from Cotopaxi.
The first set of pictures, (1-9) are views of Cotopaxi and the valley below. You can drive up to a parking lot just below the main hut. The hut is at 4800 meters and it takes about 40 minutes to reach from the parking lot. We were feeling the altitude and loaded down with our gear and food for a couple of days climbing the short sandy path was a small challenge. January 4th was a rest acclimatization day so the pictures, (19 - 22) are of that day on the glacier. We just went for a short hike up the mountain to practice some hiking with crampons. There is a small vertical piece of ice near the top of Cotopaxi which needs to be climbed. This requires the front points of your crampons and your ice axe. We practiced a little bit of this as well.
The remaining pictures are of summit day and unfortunately I did not have the sense to video tape. Probably because I was too tired. It was a challenging climb for me I was tired because I did not sleep the night before. There were times where I closed my eyes on the way up almost to catch a moment of sleep. Not advisable since the way is pretty steep but nothing more than 45 degrees. I did not use Diamox on Iliniza or Cotopaxi. Personally I will not use it on anymore climbs except in the initial days at altitude. It increases the need to urinate to the point of not sleeping and I also think it affects your appetite and general well being. I think a couple of days prior to going to altitude and a couple of days while beginning your acclimatization is all that is necessary. At least that is what I am going to stick by. I had breathing problems the night before this climb and a headache but it passed and I felt good at the hut on Chimborazo, (5000 meters).
The two peaks together in picture 24 are the Iliniza North and Sur peaks and the peak in the distance of picture 23 is Chimborazo. The view was really spectacular and unfortunately these pictures only do it partial justice.