What Happens At A 15,953 Foot Altitude With 16 People?

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Altitude Sign At Jose Rivas Refuge on Volcano Cotopaxi 2017

One more Bucket List item, or sorta, removed. Since the Ecuadorian Volcano, Cotopaxi, is considered in an eruptive state, scaling to the top is still off limits. No, there is no actual eruption, at least in the sense of lava flowing from the top. No huge molten boulders flying

from it’s crater. Explosive pyroclastic displays are not on the list either as is often the case with neighbor Tungurahua.

So what is the bucket list item? At least getting to the Refuge

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Jose Rivas Refuge Mt. Cotopaxi Ecuador.

at 15, 953 ft. above sea level! It’s only another 2,700 ft. to the top. It figures if one can make it to the refuge, the next 2700 feet would also be possible.

Now it needs to be said that climbing the path to the refuge was not 15, 953 feet from where we started. It’s more like 13,000 ft. plus. So the hike was closer to 3,000 ft. Let me tell you even that is no small feat.

What is even more significant is 16 members of my family, including my youngest granddaughter at 6 years old,

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Jarrett Family ready to climb Cotopaxi Volcano!

made it to the Refuge. (6 year old Payton is in the light blue coat in her oldest sisters arms). It takes roughly an hour of climbing a zig zag path to get there. A few started that were just not cut out for the trek. One was sick with high altitude nausea later on. This was the only incident.

This has been on my list for years. If I never get any further up this Volcanic mountain, I’m good. Just knowing I was good to that height makes me more confident I can go further. There are other Volcanic mountains in Ecuador to climb, so I may have to switch my sights. Ecuador’s Chimborazo is considered the highest Volcanic mountain in the world from the equator, so I may have to set my sights on that one.

Cotopaxi is special as a once in a lifetime experience with sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. How many opportunities will come along in a lifetime like that? It’s a first for our family which will now span three generations. Will it be possible for a fourth? Only time will tell.

Our guides told us we brought some “special energy” because the last three days had been cloud covered and the peaks were not visible. As the photos will show we had clear skies and awesome views.

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View of Cotopaxi from the parking lot

There are many things that make a family vacation special. This event rivals any we have had so far. It was an opportunity for our four sons, three of which were born in Ecuador, to reconnect with memories of the past and share new ones with their children.

It was also a chance for the younger grandchildren to experience some of their Ecuadorian roots.

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Going straight down is much faster than zig zagging up!

Stories which they have never seen and only heard about. Now they have experienced climbing a volcanic mountain, taken a cablecar ride to over 13,000 ft, and visited a volcanic crater lake where their Great Uncle has a home on the ridge of that crater. There should be some interesting “show and tell” stories for the beginning of the school year.

Author: Alan

Alan is retired and resides in Quito, Ecuador. Writing is a passion which has resulted in two eBooks thus far, with more in the works. Married 47 years with four sons and 13 grandchildren, provides potential grist for the mill! Alan is a charter "Boomer", a Viet Nam veteran, committed to roasting his own coffee and writes about whatever pops into his mind. He loves to build and ride recumbent bikes, play racquetball, writes almost daily, travels Ecuador, and talks to anything that does not move fast enough! The twinkle in his eye is a combination of the sun, and an active sense of humor. His desire to encourage others to write is being answered through his articles on the Internet.