My journey up Nevado de Colima was much anticipated. It was one of the very first things i planned on doing when i found out i was going to nearby Colima for a week. No one wanted to go with me, so i looked around on the internet for possible guided tours up the volcano although i despised the thought of a tour... I did find a dude who does do this sort of thing. He and a friend are the only two people based out of Colima that do it, or so they say. It cost me $120 US---i probably could have haggled, but didn't try. Quite frankly it was worth every penny considering i didn't have to mess around with any other the transportation there, nor did i have to pay for the meals or anything before or after the climb, NOR did i have to explain in to the spanish-speaking gentlemen at the Park entrance what i was doing there. My guide was my translator. I can say 'si' and 'hola' and thats all. So i was glad to pay.
FEB 23, 2005
-- 6:30 am --
My guide (his name is Christian) drove up to my hotel in Colima and picked me up and we got some food and gas and headed out. We actually got out of Colima at around 7:00. We went out of Colima on highway 54, and turned off at an exit that leads to a town that starts with a ' T ' i think. I could be wrong. We then followed this ridiculously windy road for a very long time and took some other random turns and eventually got onto a small road near the base of the mountain. There was a sign that clearly indicated the road leading to Nevado de Colima, and we turned and began the rapid ascent.
The road was quite something. Christian has quite obviously driven this road a thousand times cause he was quite literally TEARING up the mountain! Very bumpy ride. There are little sign posts every kilometer going up to the top, i think eventually going to 16-18 km. The National Park entrance has a cabin and a few other buildings, and we tried to just drive past without having to pay, but the dude came running out and we got through with absolutely no trouble. A few kilometres further, we got to the gate. It was not locked, but apparently it causes a headache if you try driving past. Fortunately a maintenance guy was heading up to the antennae, so we caught ride with him all the way up to the antennae! Quite convenient.
-- 11:00 am --
Well we started walking up the trail. We turned to the right of the antennae and were for the most part out of sight. Christian mentioned that if they catch you they will usually try to make you turn around because they don't want to be held responsible something goes wrong. They don't know anything about climbing or rescues, so they will always say the conditions are bad and that it is too dangerous to keep people off. So if you can avoid being seen until you further away, you are fine. They won't come chasing after you.
We just went up the normal route. It wasn't really too difficult--there was a fair bit of scrambling near the top which was very enjoyable, and tons of incredible picture oppurtunities. We did see Volcan de Fuego have a small eruption while approaching the steeper portion of Nevado. This area has an absolutely awesome view of Volcan.
The rocky sections are kind of split into two--there is an initial smaller rock band that is quite easy, and then another sandy section, followed by the last steep rocky section. There is a false summit here. The real summit is not much further though. The route to the summit is quite straight forward from there.
The summit is marked with a cross, as well as the neighboring summit only 1 kilometer or so to the east. This cross can actually be seem from the antennae if you have good eyes. We got there at around 12:00 pm. Keep in mind that we were not pushing the pace at all. I was taking pictures all the time. After a brief stay on the summit we decided to try to go to the east summit along the traverse. We meandered our way down along the south side of the ridge and soon got to some extremely steep routes. I didn't quite feel up to it seeing as i don't have too much experience with that steep stuff yet. So we turned back and headed out.
Luckily we headed out when we did because the weather turned very ugly really fast. When we got back to the truck, it began hailing. The futher we got down the road, the heavier the hail got. By the time we were out on the highways and getting close to Colima an hour later, both volcanoes were completely shrouded in heavy white-gray clouds (obviously snow and hail filled). The weather had been cold all day--around freezing. I'm sure there was some amount of snow that fell during that storm. If we would have gone on and tried for the east summit, we would have been in some serious trouble.
I was very impressed with this volcano. It is my most favourite scramble so far. Even if you have to pay $120 US to go, DO IT cause it is amazing. Chill out in Colima for a while too--lots of awesome people and shops and restaurants. A trip of a lifetime!