- Signing up with a guide (duh), and fitting for crampons and climbing boots, plus gearing up with an ice axe, ropes, and other climbing gear (+ headlamp). We were prepared with layered clothing as ice climbing is quite cold, of course.
- Hiking to a total of 200 meters from a parking lot to an elevation of 4,800 meters, where the José F. Ribas Refuge is located. This is the base camp for the hike.
- Staying at the refuge for a few hours, sleeping from ~6pm to midnight while wrapped in multiple layers and sleeping bags (no heat in the refuge! Burr!)
- Waking at midnight to eat dinner, followed by hiking initiation by light of our headlamps and the moon. Climbing must begin during the late hours due to risk of avalanches in daylight.
- Vigorous and challenging climb! Unbeknownst to my friend and I, the hike is far advanced for first-time ice climbers. Also, we were NOT acclimated to the elevation. Think of going from sea level to about 14,500 feet in one clip without an adaptation period. This was a recipe for disaster and led to unsafe mental/physical states to complete the challenging climb.
- Elevation of Cotopaxi is 5,897 meters (19,347 feet), and there are tons of crevices! The other two groups who successfully made it to the summit have been studying mountaineering and it took them about 6 hours to make the climb!