Bucket list #239: Touch a glacier
Achieved: September 2010
The journey all started with a mission to conquer Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and more than a vigorous climb. At a height of 19,347 feet, it’s no wonder that many travelers struggle with the combination of the taxing sandy path and the lack of oxygen. The first half of the journey is described in the entry Bucket List #32: Climb an active volcano, and leaves us at a height of 4810 meters (15,781 ft) on the slopes of Cotopaxi, with an additional five hundred feet to ascend in order to reach the edge of the glacier. My two friends opted to stay in refuge, out of the bone-chilling, high-speed winds and drink hot chocolate. Although it felt like I was closer to naked than the three layers I had adorned that morning, it wasn’t in my power to turn down the opportunity of seeing a glacier! And so, off we went.
Looking back down to the shelter
Sitting in the comfort of my living room, wrapped up in my onesie and enjoying the sunshine filtering through the window, it’s almost impossible to mentally recall how bitterly cold and foggy it was. I mentioned this in my earlier post about Cotopaxi, but if you decide to visit, dress warmly! That doesn’t just mean an extra shirt, anything short of a full face mask will leave you trying to hide your face in your poncho.
Braving the slopes of Cotopaxi
Luckily, my excitement outweighed any of the discomforts brought by the stinging wind, and before too long the igneous rock began to give way to patches of snow. A blanket of snow emerged above, stretching up towards the sky and nearly disappearing into the glare of the sun. A nearby tour guide pointed out the very edge of the glacier, not at the obvious beginning of the solid mass of ice but a few feet before, where the rock was perforated by ice crystals.
The edge of the glacier
The experience wouldn’t have been complete without the token tourist shots, and not only did I touch the glacier, but walked along it. Traveling to the summit, over the glacier, requires a great deal more equipment (future adventure?) and I hope to return
Looking over the glacier