Chimborazo, a mountain of Ecuador, South America, the most famous peak of the Andes, situated in lat. 1° 30' S., lon. 79° W. It was for a long time supposed to be not only the highest point on the western continent, but the highest in the world. This distinction it has now lost, as it ranks only as the sixth among the loftiest peaks of the Andes, and falls far below some of the mountains in the Himalaya chain. Its elevation above the sea was ascertained by Humboldt to be 21,422 ft. It is surrounded by high table lands, above which it rises less than 12,000 ft., so that on a near approach it appears less gigantic than when viewed from a distance. The form of the mountain is that of a truncated cone, and its appearance from the coast of the Pacific is peculiarly grand. Nearly 200 m. distant, it resembles an enormous semi-transparent dome, defined by the deep azure of the sky; dim, yet too decided in outline to be mistaken for a cloud. Its top is covered with perpetual snow. Humboldt and his companions, in June, 1802, made extraordinary exertions to reach its summit, and arrived within about 2,000 ft. of that point, then believed to be the greatest elevation ever attained by man.
Here they planted their instruments upon a narrow ledge of porphyritic rock, which projected from the vast field of unfathomed snow. A broad impassable chasm prevented their further advance; besides which, they felt in the extreme all the usual inconveniences of such high situations. They were enveloped in thick fogs, and in an atmosphere of the most piercing cold. They breathed with difficulty, and blood burst from their eyes and lips. J. B. Bous-singault, in December, 1831, ascended still higher, reaching an elevation of 19,695 ft.; but the summit of this gigantic mountain still remains unexplored by man.