Ipala volcano (1650 meters above sea level) was the main aim of 40 blind and partially sighted people from Guatemala.
I saw mountains in my life before climb them, but never before close my eyes to done it, was my first think after the call of Joel Ramírez talking about this project. Joel coordinates the organization of blind people from Guatemala. He is blind too, but with a HUGE vision.
Joel Ramírez, me and 6 mountaineers more coordinates the trekking/climb to this particular volcano, well-known as lagoon Ipala cause the big and nice lagoon in the crater. Mostly of mountaineers goes to this volcano to see the beauty of the mountain. But this ocassion was different, 40 blind and partially sighted people from all ages, join to this expedition to really see and feel the mountain.
6 mountaineering guides that in the begining mostly of us were afraid - ignorants fears-, When we beginning to hike, all fears just disappeared, and transformed in great fun. A really great experience to see all those people with great enthusiasm and courage that I never seen before in my life.
I take the leadership and I mentioned my name just once, as the same of the others guides, they never forgot our names even the names of mostly of the 40 more persons around, many times I forgot the names of my friends uffff.
3 or 4 hours the bus finally arrived to El Sauce, place to start the hike. At this momment we knew each other much better, after a lot of jokes and funny histories we really looks each other as old good friends.
We are in a desertic area, dry and hot. And those particular days the sun was radiant and high temperatures looks like very hard trip. But they with great enthusiasm prepared their heavy backpacks and divided groups to coming to walk in lines of 5-6 persons. Some of them wants to explore without help, just walking alone. I was in the head position, so, I was looking very well the terrain, but they never paid attention to the terrain, just walking and telling me funny jokes. Even jokes about blind people. Sometimes they ask me about trees or animals. I had not noticed any of that if they don't mention it.
We reach every rest area one by one, tiny places with fresh shadows. I see that they can feel better the changes of altitude, the texture of the terrain, the differents sounds of winds, even they know how closer is the lagoon before we arrived.
Camping area is in the shore of the lagoon, we talk a long long time around a bonfire. Talking about our experiences. Blind or not, all of us learning a lot of stuff. I know that all of us (guides) has never expected to learn so much as that day. Knowledge about the beauty of life and those amazing persons in these short time.
What do you hear?, what do you smell?, what do you feel? Can you describe your world without vision? how you explored the mountain without see it? I believe that in some cases the eyes blind us to others realities.
Personally in some momments felt as complety blind even looking all around, that day I stumble many times and they rarely. In middle of the night I spend time searching the headlamps to go after to the bathroom, they never uses headlamps and walk very fast in the obscurity. I cant's see anything just hear the laughs, cause they are very happy playing chess in the darkness.
We decide to go early to sleep, cause they want to see the sunrise in the highest point of the volcano. Next day need to walk 20 minutes more to the summit.
I couldn't sleep that night, all time thinking about how many things they feel at difference with seer persons. Answer: the same, but the sensation is in great scale, multiplied thousands of times. Imagine, feeling the dust and tiny particles of water in the air, the smell of tiny animals and persons, the weight of your clothes...
Early morning in the darkness - 4:30 am -, guides searching your headlamps to can see in the dark, meanwhile many of them are in lines waiting for us. Weather changed in a cold morning and the sky looks very cloudy, for some reason they know it . But dicided to reach the highest point of the volcano starting to walk in the fog.
Summit was sucessfully ascended, and as a miracle momment fog disappeared, and clouds looks less dark. Then, before us, they know EXACTLY!!! where direction the sun will appear.
Joel Aceituno Ramírez
Since 2005 he coordinates the asociation of blind people from Guatemala.
"We want to show to others how far can go the blind people"
"Volcanoes Agua, Pacaya, Acatenango in the past, this time Ipala is the 4th. Each volcano has your own shapes and uniques properties. I like it so much the nature cause is totally peacefully and quietly"
"Nice trip, I like to share with my friends, meet new ones and know about volcanoes. This is my third guatemalan volcano (Agua, Pacaya, Ipala)"
Great challenge, I like it a lot the summit viewer, something new. Ipala is my second volcano in one year.