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The glaciers on Ecuador’s Mount Cayambe are the closest to the equator, less than 170 kilometres north.
Although the temperature at sea level at this latitude is well above that which would allow ice to form, altitude is much more important than geographical location in determining temperature.
At an altitude of 5790 metres, the summit of Cayambe experiences temperatures well below freezing, which is why snow falling on the peak is compressed into glacial ice.
Global warming has caused the Cayambe Glaciers to shrink in recent years.
Over the past 30 years the mountain’s ice cap has shrunk by about 40 per cent.
On the drier western side the ice now reaches down to 4600 metres above sea level, and down to about 4200 metres on the more moist Amazonian side.
Since it lies just 70 kilometres north-east of Quito, it’s quite easy to visit Cayambe, although the ascent to the summit requires several days, including acclimatisation.
Otherwise, the view from the town of Cayambe is satisfaction enough, but make sure it’s a clear day.