There was an emission of ash & gas last Tuesday. Last weekend there was an explosion within the volcano crater where the volcano spewed ash 3 kms in the air and spilled some lava which evacuated residents and set emergency preparations in motion. "We declare a state of emergency due to the unusual activity of Mount Cotopaxi," President Correa said during his weekly Saturday address. "God willing, everything will go well and the volcano will not erupt." The move allows the president to immediately mobilize security forces throughout the country and lets the
government block publication of information related to Cotopaxi. The quality of these plans is critical as is communication / information that reaches the public - it can be a matter of life or death. Preparations include the potential transporting of thousands of cattle out of the path of pyroclastic flows and lahars.
Cotopaxi is said to mean "Neck of the Moon" in an indigenous language. The Andean people honour Cotopaxi as a "Sacred Mountain". Cotopaxi is worshipped as a "rain sender" which served as the guarantor of the land's fertility and the summit was revered as a place where gods lived. Between 13,000 and 15,000 ft it slopes are home to a rare high altitude hummingbird - Oreotrochilus chimborazo which nests on protected cliffs.
Climbing to the summit of Cotopaxi became a major tourist draw in the late 20th century. Up to 100 climbers attempt this technical, high altitude climb of Cotopaxi on weekends with experienced licensed guides. With snow and ice slopes in excess of 50 degrees the use of crampons, and ice axes is mandatory and the use of aluminum ladders is needed to cross a few crevasses.
Alexander van Humboldt was the first European who tried to climb Cotopaxi in 1802. Humboldt only reached a height of about 4,500 m. Later in 1858 Mortiz Wagner also attempted to summit but was unsuccessful. Wilhelm Reiss, a German geologist and his partner Angel Escobar from Colombia reached the summit of Cotopaxi on November 28, 1872. In 1873 Cotopaxi was summited by Moritz Alphons Stübel and then in 1880 by Edward Whymper. Rudolf Reschreiter (de) and Hans Meyer who were both painters reached the summit in 1903 and many of Reschreiter's paintings feature views of Cotopaxi.
Currently the area's hostels, restaurants, and guiding industry, and farms are left empty and awaiting.
In 1999 Tungurahua entered it's current cycle of activity, and after many warnings we have yet to experience anything significant - this has lulled Ecuadorians into a dangerous complacency about volcanic eruptions. Cotopaxi is said to be 1,000 times more powerful than Tungurahua.
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