Chimborazo from the Air
The inactive stratovolcano Chimborazo (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃimboˈɾaso]) is Ecuador's highest summit. Its last eruption is thought to have occurred some time in the first millennium AD. Its summit is generally regarded as the spot on the surface farthest from the centre of the Earth, at a distance of 6,384.4 kilometres (3,967.1 mi). Chimborazo is located in the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes of central Ecuador, 150 km (93 mi) south-southwest of the capital Quito. It is a neighbour to 5,018 m high Carihuairazo. Chimborazo's majestic summit rises 2,500 m above the surrounding highlands (~3,500 to 4,000 m) with a ~20 km wide base. Under clear conditions the summit of Chimborazo can be seen from the coastal city Guayaquil, nearly 140 km away. The nearest cities are Riobamba (~30 km to the southeast), Ambato (~30 km to the northeast) and Guaranda (~25 km to the southwest). Chimborazo is surrounded by the Reserva de Produccion Faunistica Chimborazo which forms a protected ecosystem to preserve the habitat for the Andes native camelids vicuña, llama and alpaca. The top of Chimborazo is completely covered by glaciers, with some north-eastern glacier arms flowing down to 4,600 m. Its glacier is the source of water for the population of the Bolivar and Chimborazo provinces of Ecuador. Chimborazo glacier's ice mass has decreased over the past decades due to the combined influences of global warming, ash covers from recent volcanic activity of Tungurahua, and the El Niño phenomenon. As on other glaciated Ecuadorian mountains, Chimborazo's glacial ice is mined by locals (the so called Hieleros from Spanish Hielo for Ice) to be sold in the markets of Guaranda and Riobamba. In earlier days, the people transported ice for cooling uses down to coastal towns such as Babahoyo or Vinces. With an elevation of 6,268 m, Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and the Andes north of Peru; it is higher than any more northerly summit in the Americas. The summit of Mount Everest reaches a higher elevation above sea level, but the summit of Chimborazo is widely reported to be the farthest point from Earth's center, although Huascarán is a near-tie second. Chimborazo is one degree south of the equator and the Earth's diameter at the equator is greater than at the latitude of Everest (8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level), nearly 28° north, with sea level also elevated. Despite being 2,580 m (8,465 ft) lower in elevation above sea level, it is 6,384.4 km (3,967.1 mi) from the Earth's centre, 2,168 m (7,113 ft) or 2.168 km (1.347 mi) farther than the summit of Everest (6,382.3 km) (3,965.8 mi) from the Earth's center). Although by the criterion of from sea level, it is not even the highest peak of the Andes. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century it was thought that Chimborazo was the highest mountain on Earth (measured from sea level), and such reputation led to many attempts on its summit during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1802 during his expedition to South America, Baron Alexander von Humboldt, accompanied by Aimé Bonpland and the Ecuadorian Carlos Montúfar attempted to reach the summit. From his description of the mountain it seems that before he and his companions had to return suffering from altitude sickness they reached a point at 5,875 m, higher than previously attained by any European in recorded history. In 1831 Jean Baptiste Boussingault and Colonel Hall reached a new "highest point", computed to be 6,006 m. In 1880 Chimborazo's summit was first climbed by Edward Whymper and the brothers Louis and Jean-Antoine Carrel. As there were many critics who doubted that Whymper had reached the summit, later in the same year he climbed to the summit again choosing a different route (Pogyos) with the Ecuadorians David Beltrán and Francisco Campaña.