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owenel

mexican volcanoes as prep for cotopaxi?

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or the other way around? it seems that cotopaxi is more technical, but i'm having trouble ascertaining which is most physically demanding. mountainmadness.com rates cotopaxi as level 1 and the mexican volcanoes as level 2 in difficulty, for whatever that's worth.

 

thanks for any input.

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I've never climbed Cotopaxi but the Mexican volcanoes are very straight forward. We had a group of 12-14 year old kids follow us up to almost 17K on Itza and on the summit met two 15 or 16 year old Mexian kids in jeans. On Orizaba the only real danger is altitude. The climbing is max 45 degrees on snow and maybe glacier ice. Taking time to acclimatize when it's so easy to just start walking up is the crux.

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I climbed both Orizaba and Cotopaxi, none of these are technical for climbers; bear in mind that mountain madness does take inexperienced climbers on 'expeditions'; this is why they have to rope them up and make sure that they can arrest sliding down rope chain; they are responsible for their safety of at large inexperienced customers. On both climbs you drive by SUV to climbing hut, Cotopaxi hut in fact is very nice and worth the fee. Cotopaxi is more spectacular and can be icy and you definitely will need crampons and ice axe. The most dangerous part of it is at the begining where you have a short section going diagonally and this is where inexperienced people trip. If you however climbed Rainier Emmons route, this is similar difficulty, so I would suggest doing that as preparation and then you will be qualified to do Cotopaxi without the guide. When you arrive to Quito (9000ft) you want to spend few nights there and you do acclimatization there up to 15000ft. There is a cable car, which will take you to something like 13000ft and you can hike to the top of the hill (Pichichna), it in itself is an amazing hike with spectacular views on the valley. Quito is really cool place and spending there 3-4 days is fantastic holiday itself, great and inexpensive restaurants, colnial history and you must visit Guyasamin museum Capilla del hombre, amazing architecture, views and cool art.

I took the bus and jumped off at the turn off to the park. You can hire transportation there to the Refugo for $25, now maybe $30-50 and you should be able to climb next morning. It took me 3hrs solo to the summit at comfortable pace but it takes 5hrs for the rope team. If you climb solo let them all go and leave 1 hour or maybe 2 after they left for your safety and you will probably catchup with them before the summit.

So don't bother with Mexico vulcanos as preparation for Cotopaxi unless you really want to climb them as such. Do Emmons route to qualify you for Cotopaxi and acclimatize in Quito. Cotopaxi is very busy so you don't need guides. If you decide to take a guided tour form Quito there are few operators and there is a cool climbing shop. And good luck, it is a fun holiday. I hope that this is useful. If you have further pleas email me tolejnicki@hotmail.com cheers tony

Edited by tony_seattle

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awesome replies. thanks! did either of you use diamox for any of these climbs? i've never been above 14k so i'm considering at least bringing some diamox whether i use it or not.

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you should not need diamox but if you are concerned you should take it with you; if you acclimatize for couple of days in Quito and get up to Pichichna for a day you should have no altitude problems. If you are comfortable on Rainier climb, Cotopaxi is not that much different, just a touch higher but much easier to climb as you will climb from very comfortable lodge, so it all makes easier. Have a great trip and great climb and lots of fun in Equador, it is really nice place

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Been in Quito for 2 months and climbed Cayambe last weekend (almost as tall as Coto), it went well besides kicking my out of shape ass...once you get into Quito give it a few days, do some acclimatization hikes and you should be good to go! As far as technicality, like everyone has said its just a glacier walk (you could probably follow the trail up w/o a guide) Also don't miss out on the other volcanoes like Cayambe, Chimborazo, Illiniza (Sur), and Antisana (if you're so inclined)...

Good luck!

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