Chimborazo (volcano)

Chimborazo (volcano)

Overview
Chimborazo is a currently inactive stratovolcano
Stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

 located in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD
550
Year 550 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 550 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* January 16 – Gothic War :...

.

With a peak elevation of 6268.2 metres (20,565 ft), Chimborazo is the tallest mountain in Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

. It is the tallest peak of note in close proximity to the equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

. While Chimborazo is not the tallest mountain by height above sea level, its location along the equatorial bulge
Equatorial bulge
An equatorial bulge is a difference between the equatorial and polar diameters of a planet, due to the centrifugal force of its rotation. A rotating body tends to form an oblate spheroid rather than a sphere...

 makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth's surface from its center.

Chimborazo is located in the Cordillera Occidental
Cordillera Occidental, Ecuador
The Cordillera Occidental range is one of two main mountain ranges in the Andes in Ecuador, the other being the Cordillera Central. It spans the whole country from north to south. The highest peak of the Cordillera Occidental is Chimborazo ....

 of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 of central Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, 150 km (93 mi) south-southwest of the capital Quito
Quito
San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains...

.
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Encyclopedia
Chimborazo is a currently inactive stratovolcano
Stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

 located in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD
550
Year 550 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 550 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* January 16 – Gothic War :...

.

With a peak elevation of 6268.2 metres (20,565 ft), Chimborazo is the tallest mountain in Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

. It is the tallest peak of note in close proximity to the equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

. While Chimborazo is not the tallest mountain by height above sea level, its location along the equatorial bulge
Equatorial bulge
An equatorial bulge is a difference between the equatorial and polar diameters of a planet, due to the centrifugal force of its rotation. A rotating body tends to form an oblate spheroid rather than a sphere...

 makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth's surface from its center.

Location


Chimborazo is located in the Cordillera Occidental
Cordillera Occidental, Ecuador
The Cordillera Occidental range is one of two main mountain ranges in the Andes in Ecuador, the other being the Cordillera Central. It spans the whole country from north to south. The highest peak of the Cordillera Occidental is Chimborazo ....

 of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 of central Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, 150 km (93 mi) south-southwest of the capital Quito
Quito
San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains...

. It is a neighbour to 5,018 m high Carihuairazo
Carihuairazo
Mount Carihuairazo is a volcanic caldera neighboured by Ecuador's highest mountain Chimborazo.-Location:Carihuairazo is located in the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes of central Ecuador, south-southwest of the capital Quito. Its neighboured by 6,267 m high Chimborazo...

. Chimborazo's summit rises 2,500 m above the surrounding highlands (~3,500 to 4,000 m) with a ~20 km wide base.

Under clear conditions the summit of Chimborazo can be seen from the coastal city Guayaquil
Guayaquil
Guayaquil , officially Santiago de Guayaquil , is the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador,with about 2.3 million inhabitants in the city and nearly 3.1 million in the metropolitan area, as well as that nation's main port...

, nearly 140 km away. The nearest cities are Riobamba
Riobamba
Riobamba is the capital of the Chimborazo Province in central Ecuador, which is located at the Chambo River Valley of the Andes. It is south of Ecuador's capital Quito and located at 2754 m on the Avenue of the Volcanoes...

 (~30 km to the southeast), Ambato (~30 km to the northeast) and Guaranda
Guaranda
San Pedro de Guaranda is a city in central Ecuador. It is the capital of Bolívar, a province located in the Andes mountains. The city has is connected by road with other hubs including, Riobamba, Babahoyo and Ambato....

 (~25 km to the southwest). Chimborazo is surrounded by the Reserva de Produccion Faunistica Chimborazo which forms a protected ecosystem to preserve the habitat for the Andes native camelids of vicuña
Vicuña
The vicuña or vicugna is one of two wild South American camelids, along with the guanaco, which live in the high alpine areas of the Andes. It is a relative of the llama, and is now believed to share a wild ancestor with domesticated alpacas, which are raised for their fibre...

, llama
Llama
The llama is a South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since pre-Hispanic times....

 and alpaca
Alpaca
An alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern Bolivia, Ecuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of to above sea level, throughout the year...

.

Glacier


The top of Chimborazo is completely covered by glaciers, with some north-eastern glacier arms flowing down to 4,600 m. Its glacier is the source of water for the population of the Bolivar
Bolívar Province (Ecuador)
Bolívar is a province in Ecuador. The capital is Guaranda. Much of the province has a cool, 'sierra' climate, but the part in the lower foothills has a warm, tropical climate.-Cantons:The province is divided into 7 cantons...

 and Chimborazo
Chimborazo Province
Chimborazo is a province in Ecuador, located in the central Ecuadorian Andes, containing a section of Sangay National Park. The capital is Riobamba. The province contains Chimborazo , Ecuador's highest mountain.- Cantons :...

 provinces of Ecuador. Chimborazo glacier's ice mass has decreased
Retreat of glaciers since 1850
The retreat of glaciers since 1850 affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and in the longer term, the level of the oceans...

 over the past decades, which is thought by some to be due to the combined influences of global warming, ash covers from recent volcanic activity of Tungurahua
Tungurahua
Tungurahua, , rahua : "Throat of Fire" or from Panzaleo) is an active stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Oriental of Ecuador. The volcano gives its name to the province of Tungurahua...

, and the El Niño
El Niño-Southern Oscillation
El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years...

 phenomenon.

As on other glaciated Ecuadorian mountains, Chimborazo's glacial ice is mined by locals (the so called Hieleros from Spanish Hielo for Ice) to be sold in the markets of Guaranda and Riobamba. In earlier days, the people transported ice for cooling uses down to coastal towns such as Babahoyo
Babahoyo
Babahoyo, founded September 30, 1948, by legislative decree, is the capital of the Los Ríos province of Ecuador. Its population is cited around 158,000. It is bordered by two rivers, the San Pablo and the Caracol, which join to form the Babahoyo River...

 or Vinces
Vinces
Vinces is a city in the Los Ríos Province, Ecuador. It is the seat of the Vinces Canton. There is also a Vinces River.Vinces, known as "Little Paris", is characterized by its ancient buildings, constructed in wood, that belonged to the rich cacao plantation owners.Vinces is known also as the...

.

Volcanism


Chimborazo is a dominantly andesitic
Andesite
Andesite is an extrusive igneous, volcanic rock, of intermediate composition, with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and dacite. The mineral assemblage is typically dominated by plagioclase plus pyroxene and/or hornblende. Magnetite,...

-dacitic
Dacite
Dacite is an igneous, volcanic rock. It has an aphanitic to porphyritic texture and is intermediate in composition between andesite and rhyolite. The relative proportions of feldspars and quartz in dacite, and in many other volcanic rocks, are illustrated in the QAPF diagram...

 stratovolcano
Stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

. About 35,000 years ago a collapse of Chimborazo produced a debris avalanche, the deposits of which underlie Riobamba
Riobamba
Riobamba is the capital of the Chimborazo Province in central Ecuador, which is located at the Chambo River Valley of the Andes. It is south of Ecuador's capital Quito and located at 2754 m on the Avenue of the Volcanoes...

. Chimborazo then erupted several times during the Holocene
Holocene
The Holocene is a geological epoch which began at the end of the Pleistocene and continues to the present. The Holocene is part of the Quaternary period. Its name comes from the Greek words and , meaning "entirely recent"...

, the last time around 550 AD ± 150 years. Today Chimborazo is considered inactive.

Elevation


With an elevation of 6,268 m, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and the Andes north of Peru; it is higher than any more northerly summit in the Americas.

Farthest point from Earth's center


The summit of Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

 reaches a higher elevation above sea level, but the summit of Chimborazo is widely reported to be the farthest point on the surface from Earth's center, with Huascarán
Huascarán
Huascarán or Nevado Huascarán is a mountain in the Peruvian province of Yungay, situated in the Cordillera Blanca range of the Western Andes. The highest southern summit of Huascarán is the highest point in Peru, and all the Earth's Tropics...

 a very close second. The summit of the Chimborazo is the fixed point on Earth which has the utmost distance from the center – because of the modified ball shape of the planet Earth which is "thicker" around the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 than measured around the poles.It has been difficult to resolve this issue definitively because of error margins in summit elevations and geoid
Geoid
The geoid is that equipotential surface which would coincide exactly with the mean ocean surface of the Earth, if the oceans were in equilibrium, at rest , and extended through the continents . According to C.F...

 data. Application of the formula at Earth radius#Radius at a given geodetic latitude shows that Earth's radius is 520 metres (1,706 ft) greater at Chimborazo than at Huascaran, which is 20 metres (65.6 ft) greater than the sea-level elevation difference (no more than 500 m or 1,640.4 ft), and the most recent data shows that the geoid
Geoid
The geoid is that equipotential surface which would coincide exactly with the mean ocean surface of the Earth, if the oceans were in equilibrium, at rest , and extended through the continents . According to C.F...

 at Chimborazo is about 5 metres (16.4 ft) higher than at Huascaran. This suggests that, despite being 42 metres (137.8 ft) lower than the 6310 metres (20,702.1 ft) it was previously thought to be (and is still frequently claimed to be), Chimborazo's summit is about 25 metres (82 ft) further from the Earth's centre than that of Huascaran.
Chimborazo is one degree south of the Equator and the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's diameter at the Equator
Equatorial bulge
An equatorial bulge is a difference between the equatorial and polar diameters of a planet, due to the centrifugal force of its rotation. A rotating body tends to form an oblate spheroid rather than a sphere...

 is greater than at the latitude of Everest (8848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level), nearly 28° north, with sea level also elevated. Despite being 2580 m (8,465 ft) lower in elevation above sea level, it is 6384.4 km (3,967.1 mi) from the Earth's centre, 2168 m (7,113 ft) or 2.168 km (1.347 mi) farther than the summit of Everest (6382.3 km (3,965.8 mi) from the Earth's center).In this ranking several other Andean peaks as well as Africa's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, exceed Everest. However, by the criterion of elevation above sea level, Chimborazo is not even the highest peak of the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

.

Etymology


Several theories regarding the origin of the name Chimborazo exist. In many dialects of Quichua or Quechua, "chimba" means "on the other side" as in "on the other side of the river" or "on the opposite bank." Other dialects pronounce this word "chimpa." Also, "razu" means "ice" or "snow." Local Quichua speakers will say that Chimborazo is a hispanicized pronunciation of "chimbarazu," meaning "the snow on the other side." Another theory suggests it is a combination of the Cayapa Schingbu for Women and the Colorado/Quichua Razo for Ice/Snow resulting in Women of Ice. According to another, Chimbo is Jivaro for Throne of Master/God resulting in Icethrone of God. The locals also used to call the mountain Urcurazu, with the Quichua Urcu for Mountain resulting in Mountain of Ice. In local indigenous mysticism, Chimborazo represents Taita (Father) whereas neighbouring Tungurahua
Tungurahua
Tungurahua, , rahua : "Throat of Fire" or from Panzaleo) is an active stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Oriental of Ecuador. The volcano gives its name to the province of Tungurahua...

 is seen as Mama, hence Taita Chimborazo and Mama Tungurahua.

First ascent


Until the beginning of the nineteenth century it was thought that Chimborazo was the highest mountain on Earth (measured from sea level), and such reputation led to many attempts on its summit during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In 1802 during his expedition to South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, Baron Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt...

, accompanied by Aimé Bonpland
Aimé Bonpland
Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland was a French explorer and botanist.Bonpland's real name was Goujaud, and he was born in La Rochelle, a coastal city in France. After serving as a surgeon in the French army, and studying under J. N...

 and the Ecuadorian Carlos Montúfar attempted to reach the summit. From his description of the mountain it seems that before he and his companions had to return suffering from altitude sickness
Altitude sickness
Altitude sickness—also known as acute mountain sickness , altitude illness, hypobaropathy, or soroche—is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude...

 they reached a point at 5,875 m, higher than previously attained by any European in recorded history.Incans had reached much higher altitudes previously; see Llullaillaco
Llullaillaco
Llullaillaco is a stratovolcano at the border of Argentina and Chile. It lies in the Puna de Atacama, a region of very high volcanic peaks on a high plateau within the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world...

.
In 1831 Jean Baptiste Boussingault
Jean Baptiste Boussingault
Jean-Baptiste Joseph Dieudonné Boussingault was a French chemist who made significant contributions to agricultural science, petroleum science and metallurgy.-Biography:...

 and Colonel Hall reached a new "highest point", computed to be 6,006 m. In 1880 Chimborazo's summit was first climbed by Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper
Edward Whymper , was an English illustrator, climber and explorer best known for the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. On the descent four members of the party were killed.-Early life:...

 and the brothers Louis and Jean-Antoine Carrel
Jean-Antoine Carrel
thumb|Jean-Antoine Carrel was an Italian mountain climber. He had done climbs with Edward Whymper and was his rival when he attempted to climb the Matterhorn for the first time. Carrel was in the group that became the first Europeans to reach the summit of Chimborazo in 1880...

. As there were many critics who doubted that Whymper had reached the summit, later in the same year he climbed to the summit again choosing a different route (Pogyos) with the Ecuadorians David Beltrán and Francisco Campaña.

SAETA Flight 232


In August 1976 SAETA Flight 232
SAETA Flight 232
On 15 August, 1976, SAETA Flight 232 from Quito, Ecuador to Cuenca with 55 passengers and four crew members aboard a Vickers Viscount 785D, was reported missing while in flight. It was not found for twenty-six years....

 carrying 55 passengers and four crew members aboard a Vickers Viscount
Vickers Viscount
The Vickers Viscount was a British medium-range turboprop airliner first flown in 1948 by Vickers-Armstrongs, making it the first such aircraft to enter service in the world...

 from Quito to Cuenca disappeared en route. In October 2002, after 26 years, the aircraft was found with the bodies of its 59 occupants at 5400 metres (17,716.5 ft) elevation on Chimborazo by Ecuadorian climbers on the rarely used eastern route Integral.

Other

  • Chimborazo is featured on the Ecuadorian coat of arms
    Coat of arms of Ecuador
    The coat of arms of Ecuador in its current form was established in 1900 based on an older version of 1845.-Blazon:...

    , to represent the beauty and richness of the Ecuadorian Sierra (Highlands).
  • Simón Bolívar
    Simón Bolívar
    Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

    's poem, "Mi delirio sobre el Chimborazo", was inspired by the mountain.
  • Walter J. Turner
    Walter J. Turner
    Walter James Redfern Turner was an Australian-born, English-domiciled writer and critic.Born in Melbourne, the son of a church musician, he was educated at a technical college in that city, but left for England to pursue a career in writing...

    's poem, "Romance" contains the couplet "Chimborazo, Cotopaxi/They had stolen my soul away!"
  • Luis Alberto Costales
    Luis Costales
    Luis Alberto Costales Cazar was a poet, writer, philosopher, teacher, speaker and Ecuadorian politician. In Spanish, he was an ecuatoriano....

    's poem, "Canto al Chimborazo" (Sing of Chimborazo).

Mountaineering



As Ecuador's highest mountain, Chimborazo is a very popular climb and can be climbed year round with the best seasons being December–January and July–August.

Routes


The easiest (Grade: PD) and most climbed routes are the Normal and the Whymper route. Both are western ridge routes starting at the Whymper hut and leading via the Ventemilla summit to the main (Whymper) summit.
There are several other less used and more challenging routes on the other mountains faces and ridges leading to one of Chimborazo's summits: Main (Whymper, Ecuador), Politecnico (Central), N. Martinez (Eastern). The mountain is contained on the IGM (Instituto Geografico Militar) 1:50000 Map Chimborazo (CT-ÑIV-C1).

Refugios


There are two functioning Huts, the Carrel Hut (4,850 m) and the nearby Whymper Hut (5,000 m). The Carrel Hut can be reached by car from Riobamba, Ambato or Guaranda. On the north-west side there is the now defunct Zurita hut (4,900 m) which served as base for the Pogyos route.