View of the volcano Coropuna
|Elevation||6,425 m (21,079 ft)|
|Prominence||2,208 m (7,244 ft)|
|Mountain type||Stratovolcano complex|
|Volcanic arc/belt||Central Volcanic Zone|
|First ascent||Inca, pre-Columbian|
|Easiest route||snow / glacier climb|
This massive ice-covered stratovolcano complex has a summit plateau which extends over 12 x 20 km (8 x 13 mi), with six separate summit cones rising above it. Three summits have over 300 m of prominence, the true summit, 6,425m, is at the northwest corner of the plateau. The southwest summit Kasulla (Casulla) has an elevation of 6,377m on the Peruvian IGM map but may be equal or greater in height depending on the depth of seasonal snow. A further summit with over 300 m prominence is Coropuna E, 6,307 m high. A permanent ice cap of about 130 square kilometres (50 sq mi) in area covers the summit region, extending down to roughly 5,300 metres (17,400 ft) on the north side and 4,800 metres (15,700 ft) on the south. Vertical relief on the south flank exceeds 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) over a distance of less than 15 km (9 mi).
The name Coropuna means "shrine on the plateau" in Quechua. Coropuna was and still is one of the most sacred mountains in Peru, and in 1553 its temple was claimed to be the fifth most important shrine in the Inca Empire by the chronicler, Cieza de Leon. In 1982 the Peruvian archaeologist José Antonio Chávez was able to briefly visit an Inca site called Achaymarka (Achaymarca), which he felt was a likely candidate to be the temple of Coropuna. In 1989 Chávez and Johan Reinhard led an expedition to visit Achaymarka and surveyed the central ruins at 4,030 m (13,222 ft), which was part of a complex of over 200 structures, including an ushnu, an Inca ceremonial platform. They also traced an Inca trail up to 5,500 m (18,044 ft) on the western slope of the mountain, where it disappeared beneath the glacier ice. Along this trail was an Inca site at 5,090 m (16,699 ft) that they named Aqukancha (Ajocancha). In 1996 they organized another expedition which found wool and llama bones at 5,760 m (18,897 ft), llama bones and shards at 5,947 m (19,511 ft), and wood at 6,200 m (20,341 ft), providing evidence of pre-Columbian ascents.
Another large Inca site, Mawk'allaqta, has been investigated by Peruvian and Polish archaeologists in recent years. It lies several km to the east of Achaymarka at the head of a separate drainage system and also contains an ushnu and numerous structures. Thus two "temples" of primary importance had been established by the Incas on the slopes of Coropuna.
Coropuna from the ISS.
- Biggar, John (2005)
- Peruvian IGM 1:100,000 series sheet 33-s
- Biggar, John (2005). The Andes: A Guide for Climbers (3rd ed.). Andes Publishing (Scotland). pp. 304 pp. ISBN 0-9536087-2-7.
- González-Ferrán, Oscar (1995). Volcanes de Chile. Santiago, Chile: Instituto Geográfico Militar. pp. 640 pp. ISBN 956-202-054-1. (in Spanish; also includes volcanoes of Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru)
- De Silva, Shanaka L.; Francis, Peter (1991). Volcanoes of the Central Andes. Springer-Verlag. pp. 216 pp. ISBN 3-540-53706-6.
- "Coropuna". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution.
- Reinhard, Johan (1999). "Coropuna: Lost Mountain Temple of the Incas." South American Explorers Journal 58: 5, 26-30.
- Reinhard, Johan (2005). The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. ISBN 0-7922-6838-5.
- Ziólkowski, Mariusz (2008). "Coropuna y Solimana: Los Oráculos de Condersuyos." In Adivinación y oráculos en le Mundo Andino Antiguo, Curatola, Marco and Mariusz Ziólkowski (eds.), pp. 121–159. Fundo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima.