Chimborazo is Ecuador's highest mountain, rising to a height of 20 703 feet (6310 m). The mountain is a quarternary volcano, although it has not erupted in historical time. The volcano is located in central Ecuador, in the so called Inter-Andean Graben; a depression zone between the western and eastern Cordillera ranges of the Andes.

The Chimborazo dominates its surroundings and its ice capped summit, can be seen from as far as the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps this is why the Chimborazo was believed to be the highest mountain in the world until the discovery of the Dhalaugiri in 1808, followed of course by the discovery of Mount Everest.

But in one way the Chimborazo is the highest mountain in the world, if one measures it from the earth's center. Because of the earth's rotation, the planet is not a perfect sphere, but a flattened oblate spheroid. The equatorial radius of the earth is approximately 22 kilometers greater than the polar radius. The Chimborazo is located on the equator, and as a result has its summit 3219 m further away from the earth's center than Mount Everest. However, most people would agree that measuring a mountain's altitude relative to sea level makes more sense.

Although 2500 m lower than Everest, climbing Chimborazo is not an easy task. Approximately 600 people attempt the climb each year, but around a 100 people make it to the summit. Since 1960, more than 20 people have died on the slopes. An early attempt to climb Chimborazo was by the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, on June 23, 1802. At approximately 400 m below the summit, von Humboldt arrived at a deep crevasse which forced him to turn around. Although the summit attempt failed, von Humboldt's expedition gave him much fame back in Europe.

Another notorious visitor of the Chimborazo was the liberator of South America, Simon Bolivar. He wrote about his travels, and dealing with the altitude sickness in "Mi delirio sobre el Chimborazo" ("My delirium on the Chimborazo"). His nickname for the mountain was "the watchtower of the universe".

But it wasn't until January 4, 1880 that the Chimborazo was finally conquered by the respected British climber Edward Whymper and his companions Jean-Antoine Carrel and Louis Carrel. Whymper's success was met with such disbelief that he summitted Chimborazo again only a few months later, on July 3, 1880. This time he was accompanied by two Ecuadorian climbers, David Beltrán and Francisco Campaña. Whymper was very interested in studying the effects of high altitude on the human body, and made careful notes during his climbs.

The Chimborazo is sacred to the indigenous people, who refer to the mountain as the "Woman in Ice", "Icy Home of the Gods", and "Sacred Winds of the Moon". People from the neighboring town Riobamba hike up the glacier to collect ice. Some locals drink the melted ice as a tonic for their ailments.

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