We ended our 2 week trip in Ecuador with climbing Cotopaxi. We met our guides (Ivo and Paul of Veloz Expediciones) in Riobamba on Thursday morning and got outfitted with the gear that we did not choose to fly down from the U.S. We drove to the park, had lunch, and then parked in the lot. The hike to the refugio took approximately 45 minutes carrying our packs. Ivo and Paul made us tea and cooked us dinner, and we attempted to sleep around 6 pm.
There is a new route up the glacier that avoids the seracs and ladders mentioned in earlier posts. The new route is longer and over steeper snowfields, but only crosses very small crevasses.
We planned on waking up at midnight, but another rather loud group got up at 11, and we decided to just get up also. We left the hut at midnight after being served a hearty "breakfast." The first 20 minutes of the climb was on fairly packed volcanic scree and was easy. We reached the snow line and stopped to rope up and put on crampons. The next 2 hours were mostly snow climbing with some small crevasses to step over. About half way up we reached a section with seracs on either side, but were able to avoid being underneath them. From here we climbed steeply up a snow field before reaching a slightly exposed section. We crossed this without difficulty. From here the new route climbs directly to the summit about 1-1.5 hours. We summited at 5:30am, and were the second group on top. It was very cold, and the sun had not quite made it over the horizon yet. One of our party members was very cold, so we waited until we could barely see the sun and then began our decent. We reached the refuge at 8:00am.
I would very highly recommend Veloz Expeditions, they were very professional and had very good safety gear.