Cráter de La Olleta

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Colombia, South America
15912 ft / 4850 m
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Cráter de La Olleta
Created On: Aug 25, 2003
Last Edited On: Apr 13, 2014


Cráter La Olleta is one of the three main craters located on the huge and very infamous volcanic mass known as Nevado del Ruiz. I will include Olleta on a separate page here because when Arenus, the highest peak of Ruiz is often officially closed due to eruption danger, and when that happens, you can still climb this nearby peak for a good look at Ruiz. Volcan de la Olleta is also probably one of the easiest mountains of its height to climb in the world.

On November 13, 1985, Arenus Crater on Nevado del Ruiz erupted and melted part of the ice-cap on Arenus, which caused a mudslide that buried the town of Amero. An estimated 23,000 people lost their lives that day. In good weather, you will have a great view of Ruiz from the summit of Volcan de la Olleta. To see the mountain page for Ruiz (Arenus Crater), CLICK HERE.

Cráter de La Olleta itself has had known eruptions on February 19 1845 and around 350 AD.

Cráter La OlletaCráter La Olleta from the east.

Getting There

To get to the trailhead, start in Manizales. There is no public transport to the trailhead, so you'll have to check several tour companies for a trip. The road heads east and up the mountain to El Secreta, where you turn south on a dirt road to the trailhead. In 1999, we paid $10 a person for five people, which included a tour of the Ruiz area and a visit to the hot springs, and a lunch. Park entry was an additional $10 and there was a small fee to bathe in the hot springs in El Secreta.

Ruiz from the trailhead at...Nevado del Ruiz as seen from near the Olleta trailhead.

Routes Overview

To climb the mountain via the East Slopes Route simply have the driver from the tour company drop you off at the base of Olleta, and simply climb the steep sandy slope to the crater rim in about 1 or 1.5 kms. The elevation gain is only 300 meters (1000 feet), so this is one of the easiest places in the world to reach this high of elevation. See the route page for more details.

Volcan de la Olleta appears to be a fairly easy climb from any direction, so there should be many routes available other than the East Slopes Route. Climbing down into the crater looked very interesting, and might make an interesting trip.

Which ever route is used, make sure to acclimatize somewhere, as the trailhead is at 4550 meters (14,928 feet)!

Cráter La OlletaThe East Slopes of Cráter La Olleta.

Time Needed for Climb

The climb can be done in a few hours, but remember that you have to acclimatize somewhere first!

Olleta summit photolleta summit photo. The highest summit of Nevado del Ruiz is in the background. It only takes a few hours round trip to climb the Olleta.

Red Tape

No permits are required, but the entire park is occasionally closed due to eruption danger from Volcan del Ruiz. There is a small fee to enter the park.

Equipment Needed

No special gear is needed, but be prepared for cold and wet weather at any time.

When to Climb

The dry season is December through March, and this is the best time to climb.

Volcan de la Olleta summit photoView from the summit of Volcan de la Olleta. It is often cloudy, even in the dry season.

Weather Link

You can check the weather forecast for Manizales below, but remember that higher elevations will be much cooler and wetter than Manizales.