After a full day’s hike with tired legs, we arrived to La Primavera, a guesthouse and farm, run by Mabel and her family of mountain men, a compulsory pack of dogs, and an energetic six-year-old boy, who is truly a son of the páramo, growing up in this vast diorama of wind, water, and survival. At La Primavera, Mabel runs a tight ship. At the heart of the operation is her kitchen, where hikers huddle around a large wood-burning stove, while she shuttles them in and out, plating up hearty meals of soup, potatoes, meat, cabbage, rice, arepas, and a tall glass of agua-panela. Solar-powered lights stay on until 10:30pm, but only her favorite guides are allowed to sit in the queen’s court, delighting her with the latest news about their tours, the peace process, natural disasters, and local gossip.
Mabel’s ascension to Queen of the Páramo is something of a technological coup. The farmstead’s privilege has more to do with the cell phone signal than the agua-panela. Walk down the trail 15 minutes and there is another farmhouse and another herd of cows, but no cell coverage. Since guides can’t call beforehand to make reservations, Mabel unwittingly cornered the market.
Before falling asleep in our bunkroom, we hydrated with green tea and rum, waiting and hoping the best for Juanito, whose eight hour hike ended up being 12 hours. Probably distracted by Tinder, he trudged in well after dark, conquered by the mud and the páramo. He gave everything to reach the La Primavera, but sacrificed the summit push and spent the next two days with Mabel, nursing altitude-induced headaches and lungs full of pneumonia.
Across the valley, the peak of Nevado de Tolima was visible in the early morning, its glacier a perfectly sculpted scoop of ice cream. We hiked through the páramo up to 4200m, the last stop for the mule train. Here we put everything we need for the summit on our backs. Rico, inexplicably, had three backpacks for himself, so we shared the load up to 4600m, to a picturesque basecamp high on the northeastern flank.
We feel asleep to the sound of the wind, a short distance below the ice. At 6 am, we stepped on the glacier, spiking our way up in two cordadas, or roped teams, led by the guides. Inspired by the sunrise, we moved swiftly, reaching the summit with a window of clarity that revealed the peaks of Santa Isabel and Volcano Ruiz, whose rising fumarola reminded us all that deep down, beneath the glaciers, the páramos, and our superficial lives, there is fire.
Climbed Tolima unguided from Valle de Cocora, easily reached by frequent shared jeeps from Salento. Camped night 1 at Laguna del Encanto (~4,000m), then hiked up the following morning. Glacier in bad shape, lots of crevasses. White-out on top. My hiking partner managed to make it to the summit without crampons (not advisable, really you should have full glacier gear for this climb). Slept at Finca La Primavera night 2, Tolima looked stunning, its top covered in a mushroom cloud at sunset. The following day hiked back down in time to catch the 12pm bus from Salento to Medellín.
Muy bonita ruta, sobre todo por el campamento que se puede hacer en la laguna del encanto.
El dia estuvo bueno y al noche tambien porque salimos a las 3 am, con luna llena.
La cumbre se logró a las 9 am, junto con 4 amigos mas.
This is an incredibly beautiful climb and one of my favorites. From the rainforest to the glaciers, this climb packs in a lot of variety.