The Cotopaxi Volcano: So close to heaven The first step required prior to conquering a summit is to challenge our own being. Gonzalo Calisto, setting an example with his persevering devotion, invites us to conquer the tallest and wonderful landscapes of Ecuador. If asked to choose one single summit, he doesn’t think twice, he recommends the Cotopaxi as a mandatory option: “taking in the scenes involved, it is quite an interesting destination”. Gonzalo CalistoGonzalo Calisto is an ultra-resistance athlete specializing in adventure expedition races and ultra-marathon competitions. At age 34 he has conquered several summits in Ecuador. “I am a long-distance athlete, have done little mountain climbing as compared to the number of adventure competitions and ultra-marathon races in which I have participated”. He is a sportsman of challenges, who permanently seeks to outdo himself. This situation led him into participating in the ’10-Summit Challenge’, a non-stop endeavor involving one summit after another. The challenge comprised 340km and 30,000m of positive slope. “During this challenge, Cotopaxi taught me more than any other; it was number five in the project and took my breath away, along with my physical strength. I was exhausted; however, and while climbing, I was able to understand that the ability to achieve a goal lies beyond physical fitness The Cotopaxi is a splendid scenario; its glacier is large and exhibits a multiplicity of shapes and colors. The Cotopaxi is a splendid scenario; its glacier is large and exhibits a multiplicity of shapes and colors. “If dawn reaches you up there, and you are lucky enough to have clear skies, you will have a panoramic 360 degree view that probably takes place just once in a lifetime. It’s surreal. It has everything to become a spot on Earth that everyone would like to see. The contrast between snow and the glacier, the majestic surroundings, the crater… It’s just beyond marvelous” Foto: Nicolás Landes Diet is a determinant factor: “you are what you eat”. Before climbing a mountain it is essential to eat normally, without excess. “You don’t know how your body is going to react and how digestion will work in the heights; therefore, you must eat the food which your body is used to”. During the journey, Gonzalo recommends food having high glycemic indexes that contribute energy. “At the heights you feel as if you have no strength. Liquid carbohydrates are a great option to inject energy into the body. Hydration is also very important before, during and after mountain climbing because lots of fluids are lost”. Eating energy foods at a maximum of half an hour intervals is a must; small sips of water must be drank constantly. With a generous heart, he reveals that as part of this 2015 he will launch into a challenge similar to the previous one (Desafío 10 Cumbres) that will include new mountains. The extended objective goes beyond outdoing personal performance; it intends to raise funds for children suffering from cancer. The outstanding sportsman mentions that he frequently goes to the mountains accompanied by his children. He teaches them how to temporarily put a halt to everyday activities and to enjoy the magnificence of nature. To Gonzalo, going to the mountain is all about finding oneself. Tourism “Ecuador is a destination that offers wide diversity in everything that has to do with adventure tourism and mountain-climbing”.