20 days ago

Visited at the end of April 2018. Did not trek to the summit. You need a guide to do so. Did a day hike. Took the Zig Zag trail up to Jose Rivas Refuge and continued on to the Lower Glacier. Quite strenuous due to the high altitude! Not steep, no rock scrambling or anything, just thin air. The slightest movements take effort. Elevation is around 15,000 ft when you start the trail at the parking lot. Never really saw the sun on our hike, clouds rolled in and out (which was neat), got snowed on for about 25 minutes on the way up, but yes, we did see the summit on several brief occasions- magnificent! Loose pebbles on the way down. I slipped and fell a few times. Our hike was 2.6 miles roundtrip, took us almost 4 hours- 1 hour of which was spent chilling out at the refuge and over by the glacier. At the refuge, we used the bathroom (no TP, toilet did not flush) and got our passports stamped inside. Crowded inside, drinks/snacks available, lots of flags hanging on walls- people sign them. We drove up and entered the park via the north entrance- it was sunny along the way, bumpy road, incredibly scenic. Saw llamas and wild horses too! Overall, great experience! Prior to this hike, we did one acclimating hike at Pasochoa (did not reach the summit) and spent one other day in Banos. We were definately effected by the altitude on this Cotopaxi hike. We both felt swimmy-headed and fatigued from the get go. Stuffy nose, massive headache on the way down. I suppose it doesn't help that we are from the flat lands of Florida!