Skiing the Pacific Ring of Fire and Beyond
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NORTHERN ANDES MAP
  Pico Bolivar
  Pico Cristóbal Colón
  Nevado del Ruiz
  Nevado de Santa Isabel
  Nevado del Tolima
  Nevado del Huila
  Cotacachi
  Cayambe
  Antisana
  Sincholagua
  Cotopaxi
  Illiniza
  Carihuairazo
  Chimborazo
  Tungurahua
  El Altar (Capac Urcu)
  El Sangay


CENTRAL ANDES MAP


SOUTHERN ANDES MAP




Northern Andes: Regional Map and Introduction

Venezuela and Northern Columbia #
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The Andes are the longest mountain range in the world, stretching over 4000 miles (6500 km) along the entire west coast of South America, and are second in height only to the Himalaya. The northernmost portions are somewhat isolated from the main range. The highest peaks in Venezuela and Colombia are found in these non-volcanic ranges, the Sierra Nevada de Merida (Pico Bolivar) and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Pico Cristobal Colon) respectively. Although these ranges are lower than the main portions of the Andes, the high precipitation results in permanent snow and glaciation on the higher peaks of both. The Merida range is easily accessible, with an aerial tramway and recreational facilities on the central massif. The Santa Marta, in contrast, is remote and poorly explored, and the current political (and criminal) situation in Colombia greatly limits access.





Select a mountain from the clickable map above


Colombian Volcanoes #
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In central Colombia, the volcanoes which dominate much of the Andes make their first appearance. There are three major, well-separated volcanic regions in the Andes, the northernmost in Colombia and Ecuador, the central in southern Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile, and the southernmost in southern Chile and Argentina. All are formed by the subduction of the Nazca Plate (in the eastern Pacific) beneath the South American Plate. The volcanoes of Columbia are not as famous as others in the Andes, yet among the more than twenty volcanoes there are several large glaciated stratovolcanoes, including three collectively known as Los Nevados (Ruiz, Santa Isabel, and Tolima) and the complex massif of Nevado de Huila. Unfortunately, any travel to the mountainous regions of Colombia is extremely hazardous now due to kidnappings and guerrilla violence. Hopefully, things will improve someday...

Ecuadorian Volcanoes #
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By far the most famous volcanoes in the Andes are found along the "Avenue of the Volcanoes" in Ecuador, including Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, and Cayambe. Two ranges of volcanic peaks, the Cordillera Occidental on the west and the Cordillera Real on the east, line the central valley which contains the capital, Quito. There are several dozen stratovolcanoes in Ecuador, many of which (such as El Sangay) are quite active. About ten volcanoes still have permanent snowcover and glaciers, despite the rapid glacial retreat over the past two centuries which has left several formerly glaciated peaks bare. Many of these peaks were first ascended by Edward Whymper (of Matterhorn fame) and party in 1880, and the climbs are recounted in his classic book, Travels amongst the Great Andes of the Equator. Access to the major peaks is quite easy, with trails and even huts on most of them, and all are climbable within a few days round-trip from Quito. Ecuador is very accomodating for tourists and mountaineers, and the political situation is quite stable (unlike the weather).



North America | South America | Asia | Oceania & Antarctica | Beyond the Ring | Volcanic Seven Summits | Volcano WebCams
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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