Expedition 0° φ / 0° C (zero degrees latitude,  zero Celsius degrees), a Mexican project organized, among other institutions, by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered recently the highest point on the Earth’s equatorial line, which still does not appear in maps.

The geographic point was located 4,740 meters above the sea level, at the coordinates 0° 0’ 0” latitude and 77° 59’ 58.6” west, at the southern slope of Cayambe Vulcano, in the Republic of Ecuador. Upon arrival, in September 27th 2009, the Mexican exploration group named the point La Arista del Aguila y el Condor (Ridge of the Eagle and the Condor).

The initiative is part of the project Eje Conservacion del Patrimonio Cultural y Ecologico en los Volcanes (Conservation Axis of Cultural and Ecological Heritage at the Volcanoes) developed by INAH though the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) and the Direction of Historical Studies (DEH), supported by Ecuador authorities through the Ecuador Embassy in Mexico.

First advances of the investigation were presented by Arturo Montero Garcia, INAH specialist in High Mountain Archaeology and coordinator of the Expedition 0° φ / 0° C, who mentioned that Cayambe Volcano expedition required 12 days and 5 attempts before achieving the goal.

With the presence of Galo Galarza Davila, ambassador of Ecuador in Mexico and Alejandro Villalobos, director of ENAH, Montero recalled that the project was formulated jointly by both nations.

“It was during the First International Encounter of Archaeoastronomy in Quito during late September, when the expedition to Cayambe took place, an elevation explored since 19th century by European voyagers such as Alexander von Humboldt”.

Montero mentioned that the project was formulated by more than 50 persons between climbers, advisors and scientists from Mexico, Ecuador and Spain. 24 of them integrated the expedition: 2 researchers, 2 artists and 19 climbers.    

“Reaching that point was complicated from the beginning, since topographic charts, aerial photographs and satellite images do not show scales or details required for prospecting. We depended on visibility, minimal due to mountain mist produced by humidity from Amazonas and frequent snowstorms”.    

Besides the geographic finding, the mission also conducted glaciology, meteorology, physiology, anthropography and archaeoastronomy studies. One of the interests was to find out if there were glaciers on the equator. 600 meters away from the Arista del Aguila y del Condor was located one named Ecuador.

Ridge Axis Mundi and glacier Bicentenario are also mentioned in the Expedicion 0° φ / 0° c results publication.

Expeditionary members propose Cayambe equatorial glaciers to be inscribed in the world natural heritage list, due to their persistence and the water fountain they represent to maintain life”. On the imaginary equatorial line, there are no great elevations. Cayambe Volcano is the highest peak, therefore its relevance.

The members of the team that explored Cayambe are: Lorena Arias, Karla Campos, Bruno Candiani, Miriam Diaz, Lysette Eyssautier, Miguel Lopez, Gabriela Martinez, Jesus Martinez, Arturo Montero, Jesus Montesa, Manuel Montesinos, Jazmin Moreno, Jorge Obregon, Adrián Olguin, Diego Ortiz, Lizette Rolland y Juan Sanchez.

Other Mexican instances that supported the expedition are Universum (Museo de Ciencias UNAM); Universidad Iberoamericana, Centro Cultural Isidro Fabela and Brigada de Rescate Alpino de Mexico.

Institutions of Ecuador are Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural; Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia e Hidrologia; Instituto Geografico Militar; Direccion de Pichincha del Ministerio del Ambiente; Reserva Ecologica Cayambe – Coca; Quitsato,  and Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana.