Solo scramble of the standard route
February 11 2019
It was my 4th night of no sleep and I felt terrible. I was just released from the hospital a week earlier due to a near fatal septic infection. Kimberly and I decided to head to Nevado del Toluca anyway. Since we were short on time, we went with a Mexican driver/guide. I had climbed the peak solo more than 26 years prior and was eager to see how things have changed on the mountain. We left Mexico City at 3 AM.
You can no longer drive to the crater, so we stopped north of the saddle between Humboldt and Anguila and hiked over the ridge and down to the crater lakes from there. We took a direct and very steep route up to the summit of Fraile. Since I didn't feel well, the climb up the scree slope seemed endless. Once on the ridge, there was some interesting scrambling and a little bit of ice. We reached the summit after four hours and I was exhausted. I had definitely not recovered from my hospital stay. The hike down was long as well.
It was a great climb, but I couldn't enjoy it due to my not feeling well.
I kept thinking of my failure on Toluca a few weeks earlier and wanted to complete the climb. I made my way back to Toluca to try again. As I walked the road towards the volcano, an Irish expat living in Mexico City gave me a ride all the way to the crater lakes. I then climbed Nevado Toluca in perfect weather. It was a nice scramble. I then made my way back to Mexico City to head for home after my 22-day trip.
I rode a bus to Raices at the base of Nevado Toluca, but when I got off the bus, it was snowing hard. I bought some chips and bread (not much food for sale in this tiny town!) I walked he road towards the albergue (mountain hut), but two local girls, age 19 and 22 wanted to join me. I could tell they had no chance of climbing the peak, and was annoyed that they were following me. Using my rudimentary Spanish, I tried to tell them that this was a dangerous climb to try and dissuade them, but they would ask, “then why are you going?” It was still snowing very hard when pickup truck passed and the girls ask them for a ride to the albergue for them and myself. We caught a ride to the allbergue, when I again started walking towards the mountain. The girls were still following, to my disappointment. I wouldn’t mind making a few new friends, but I came here to climb the mountain! They were freezing cold and it was still snowing hard. The 22-year old girl sat down to cry on the side of the road. I remember thinking, what should I do now, set up the tent? I didn’t want to turn around and walk all the way back to the albergue. After a few minutes, a Volkswagen Beetle passed. They were going to give us a ride up the mountain, and hopefully take the girls back to town. When we got the national park checkpoint, almost to the crater and start of the climb, the national park service turned us all back because of the snowstorm. “Too dangerous on the mountain” they said. I ask if I could camp at the checkpoint and wait out the storm in my tent, but they said no and we all had to go back to the albergue, which we did. Dang, wasn’t this supposed to be the dry season? There was a party going on at the albergue for school children and teachers. I was offered some food, which was better than just living on bread and chips. I camped nearby, because I didn’t want to spend the $12 to stay in the albergue. After setting up the tent in the snow and waiting around getting soaked, I finally gave up and went into the albergue and spent the $12 for a room. The girls finally left after I ignored them the whole time.
The sun came out near sunset and the mountain was covered in fresh snow and with the sunset, was very beautiful. One of the school teachers invited me to his house down in Toluca where he said he was coming up to the mountain in a few days and he would show me around the country a bit. I accepted and rode down to Toluca. I found out that evening that he had romantic interest in me, so I took off late at night. Jeez, can’t a gringo climb a mountain without being bothered? That was the end of my first attempt to climb one of the Mexican Volcanoes.
Left San Diego on Saturday, summited on Sunday. Great hike/climb. I got a late start due to some miscommunication at the hotel, but completed it in 5 1/2 hours. Went up the south side then straight down the scree shoot. I had thoughts of doing the rim traverse, but was out of time and energy. A ton of people there enjoying the lakes on a Sunday afternoon. I have to say even after reading that their is a false summit I was fooled by it as well as a little disheartened. However, it and the true summit made the climb much more enjoyable.
From Parque de los venados lodge with Court, Chad, Chris, Jose.
I spent a month climbing volcanoes. While climbing Toluca I also went to the top of Pico de Aguila, Cerro de Ombugo, and Arista de Humboldt.
Other peaks I bagged on this trip include...
Volcán La Malinche, Cofre de Perote, Pico de Orizaba (country highpoint, 3rd highest in North America), Volcán Iztaccíhuatl, Nevado de Colima, Cerro Tancitaro
Volcán Pacaya, Volcán Tajumulco (country highpoint, 24th most prominent peak on earth), Volcán Concepción, Volcán Tacaná (2nd highest in Central America), Cerro Chemal "La Torre", Cerro Chemal "Cerro los Cuervos", Montañas Peña Blanca, Volcán Santa María, Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Acatenango
Volcán Poás, Volcán Barva, Volcán Irazú, Cerro Chirripó (country highpoint, 36th most prominent on earth), Cerro Piramide, Cerro Terbi, Cerro Buenavista
Trip report with photos
From a beautiful campsite just above Laguna del Sol, we made our way over Pico Noreste and on to Aguilla. This was meant as an acclimatization climb for Orizaba; however I thought this peak to be a little tougher and more rugged than Orizaba. A worthy and interesting route. If Mexico ever becomes safe again to go to, I would like to do the entire traverse of Toluca as an acclimatization climb before Popo, if it ever stops erupting. Of course those are two big ifs.
I took the east route via Lago de la Luna and descended through the steep, long and boring "arenal". It was pretty easy up to 4500 m. After that, the inner slope was under a thick ice sheet that rendered further ascent nearly impossible without crampons. Here you have to be wise and take the outer, sunny slope, ALWAYS following the footsteps you see. Just before reaching the summit, there is a thin arête than can be dangerous under extreme conditions. Watch your step!
An easy day from the hut, with a bit of fun third class along the ridge and a good boot-ski back to Laguna del Sol. Hundreds of tourists, but weirdly most of them were headed for Arista de Humboldt rather than the summit. Trip report.
We spent the night at the almost abandonded hut near the entrance, $100 pesos each. Bring a headlamp no power. They couldn't even be bothered to build a fire.
Problems started the next AM when our cousin's car broke down about 2 kms short of the trail. The road to crater is no longer open. The trail starts at the old upper huts (don't appear to be open for camping any more, just bathrooms and a simple vendor hut).
From there we had an extra 2 kms and estimated 250m of climb just to get to summit rim. We descended, then the family explored the lakes area. It is pretty cool place, like Crater Lake without the lake and add about 4 small to large puddles.
The trail heads straight up across the crater and turns right. I made that fine but on third hump I was totally stumped on how to find a passable route (a CL3 or less route that is). Alone and with storms coming in and my family below, I had to leave this for another day.
I think the situation may have a been a blessing in disguise, however, as the green valleys areound Toluca are absolutely beautiful. And the Xinantecatl park and massif are worthy of a few days of exploring and peak bagging, not unlike Mazama aka Crater Lake. Nearby Valle del Bravo would be a good place to spend a couple days after finishing up in the mountains.
Toluca, you are green and beautiful. We will be back!
While on an LDS mission we got rare permission (twice!) to go to the top of this immense volcano. Of course, it was a taxi ride most of the way so it hardly counts as climbing a huge peak, but we did scramble up to what looked like one of the tallest peaks to us (likely the 2nd or third highest), and we were sure high and tried our best, so I'm counting it.
With Sarah, Senad and Zhio
We took direct route, gully above Laguna de Sol, steep and loose rock, but no problems. Amazing views of crates lakes and entire Nevado de Toluca volcano, i did like this mountain and area.
Very, very lovely area. We were the first people on the mountain and had the mountain to ourselves the entire day until our descent. After a restful night in San Martin Hacienda, we cruised up to the summit of Pico de Fraile from the lovely crater. The dry couloir was steep but forgiving, and I was impressed by the pleasantly rocky ridge to a relatively small summit. Great day, great welcome to Mexico's mountains! Finished off with a summit of Humboldt Peak - summitted both peaks of that group with Kiefer just to be sure. ;)
Climbed the day after arriving in Mexico with Mike Preece, Appleton Scutchfield and Ryan Swapp. Fun climb. Hundreds of locals were checking out the snow as we climbed back out of the caldera.
Nice hike to the summit of Pico de Fraile. Perfect weather conditions.
the winter of 1992-93 featured more snow than usual on Nevado - some areas (Canada del Oso) still had snow in May. I descended on snowboard from just below the summit.
Did a complete rim traverse. Super fun.
I did the rim traverse today, it tools us about 5 hours including lunch and breaks. Rock pro is completely unnecessary, it's only 4th class scrambling. Snow gear isn't necessary in this season, two of my partners used below the ankle boots.
Rented a car on the Paseo de Reforma, drove to Nevado de Toluca, and started to climb at 1pm...took me 3 hours to the Cerro Campanario and back through the Standard East Approach to Pico de Fraile. Had to stop before continuing further from Campanario as the visibility made it impossible to identify your way forward...will definitely try to come back and finish the job!
Completed the rim traverse with Bighornmonkey. Beautiful views, great conditions, fun climbing! Yannick wrote a trip report of the climb on our blog: http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/hobos/1/1296719203/tpod.html