Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Cotopaxi from San Rosario

This is a detail of an engraving of the volcano Cotopaxi in Ecuador, by Mr Whymper, taken from the book "The Story of Our Planet", as noted previously. It was originally published in Mr Whymper's own book, "Travels in the Great Andes of the Equator", for which I do not yet have the publication dates.
Mr Whymper enjoyed an intimate relationship with the mountain Cotopaxi, spending "a night on the cone just below the summit", and also being able to look down into the crater. This according to T.G.Bonney, in "The Story of Our Planet", chapter II, page 260-261.
Cotopaxi is the "highest active volcano in the world", and "situated about thirty geographical miles south-east of Quito" ("The Story of Our Planet", page 259)
Mr Whymper's own account, quoted in "The Story of Our Planet", is beautifully and graphically written. His description of the interior of the crater speaks of "Cavernous recesses" within, and "the pipe of the volcano, its channel of communication with lower regions, filled with incandescent, if not molten lava, glowing and burning ; with flames travelling to and fro over its surface, and scintillations scattering as from a wood fire..." He writes of the mountain blowing off steam in violent gouts, "The noise on these occasions resembled that which we hear when a large ocean steamer is blowing off steam."
This description, written more than a hundred years ago, captivated me. I wish I had been able to have been there at the time.

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