Altar, Ecuador

Location: 1.68S,78.42W
Elevation: 17,730 ft (5405 m)

Altar is an extinct volcano in the middle of Ecuador. It is covered with ice and snow. Many different colored lakes can be found on Altar. Basalts dominate the composition of the volcano. The many peaks of Altar resemble the shape of an altar of a colonial church. The highest of these peaks is Bishop. Incas called this massive collapsed volcano "Capac Urcu," meaning "Almighty Mountain." A rarely visited lake sends a small flow of water from the caldera, which is full of caves. Seeing the mountain as a huge cathedral, Spaniards named it El Altar. They named the northern summit, the Canon, the eastern summit, Tabernacle, and the southern summit, Bishop.

Sources of Information:

McIntyre, Loren, "Ecuador: Low and Lofty Astride the Equator," National Geographic, pp. 258-298, February, 1968.

"Snow on the Equator," Editorial Don Bosco, Quito, Ecuador, 18 pp.


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