Erwin Kraus, the pioneer of climbing in Colombia
The name of Erwin Kraus is bounded not only to climbing, ropes and axes, but also to painting, brushes, fotography and art. He born in Bogotá in 1911, but his mother and father were german. The first stage of his live was in Switzerland when he learned to climb mountains and developed a great interest for painting and taking photos. Then he came back to Colombia when became the pioneer of the climbing; his great trayectory began in 1938 when he climbed for the first time Nevado Pan de Azúcar (5150 meters) at El Cocuy along with Anton Lanpel. the next year he reach the summit of Pico Simón Bolivar at the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, with an altitude of 5770 meters, which is the highest point of our country, along with Guido Pichler and Enrico Praolini. In 1942 he came back to El Cocuy, where he made the first aproach to Ritacuba Negro, reaching the summit along with Heriberto Hublitz. The next years climbed most of the mountains of Colombia, openning routes in every place he visited. At the same time he was climbing, he used to paint and photograph the beatiful landscapes, making a full collection of the altitudes of our country. ''Hay vidas que marcan senderos, viajeros que descubren territorios, caminantes que en su peregrinar han encontrado el sentido del ser. El camino que asciende a aquel lugar más allá, alto y lejano, la montaña, lleva a la transparencia del aire, donde el cosmos se ofrece tal como es, infinito".
National Park of El Cocuy
The National Park of El Cocuy and Guican is located at the north of the Cordillera Oriental, with an extension of 306.000 ha along the provinces of Boyacá (municipies of Cubará, Chiscas, El espino, Guican, El Cocuy and Chita), Arauca (Tame) and Casanare (La Salina and Sacamá). Depending of each part of the park and its own conditions, it has been determinated the use of the land and the resourses. At the east of the park, where the rivers of Arauca and Casanare born and flow down to the llanos orientales, it can be found four ecosystems between 500 and 5330 meters, low tropical forest, cloud forest, páramo and superpáramo. Due to the absense of accesing routes to these area has produced high rates of conservation. At the north east of the park, the U'WA indians live in an area of 100.000 ha where the natural conditions of the ecosystems are protected by these group as well as their culture. The west part is a little bit drier due to the warm winds originating from the Cañón del Chicamocha. The park has more than 20 snow-covered tips, lakes formed from glaciars, páramos (endemic ecosystem of the ecuador), great diversity of animals and plants. Interested sites. Snow - covered tips (Ritacubas, Pan de Azúcar, El Castillo, y el Púlpito del Diablo); lakes (Los Verdes, Laguna Grande de la Sierra, La Isla, La Plaza y el Avellanal. www.parquesnacionales.gov.co More info: Unidad Administrativa Especial del Sistema de Parques Nacionales Naturales Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial Santa Fe de Bogotá: Oficina de atención a visitantes Carrera 10 N. 20-30 piso 4. Teléfonos: 2431634 - 2433095 Fax: 2434174 El Cocuy (Boyacá) Telefax: (987) 890359
Nevado Pan de Azúcar is one of the most visited mountains in the National Park of el Cocuy due to its easy acces and the conditions of climbing. It is located at the Laguna Grande de la Sierra, with an altitude of 5150 meters. Along its glacier, it has a beatiful partner, El Púlpito del Diablo, a rock cube formation of about 80 meters high with many routes of diferent levels, that attrack many rock climbers. Pan de Azúcar has two main routes; the normal is taking a long egde from the base camp "El Hotelito" located at the west of the mountain, while the other route is from Laguna Grande de la Sierra, ridging a long morrene up to "el paso de Vellavista" where begins the north west route. The Laguna Grande de la Sierra is the most visited place of the park because is surrended by 5 or 6 mountains with diferent leves and dificulties of climbing.
In order to get to El Cocuy, there are buses from Bogotá that take about 13 hours. At this point, you better take the milk track that leaves El Cocuy about 6 am and go up to the mountains, picking up the milk. This track drop you out either at "El Himat" (weather station), if you are planning to take the normal route, or Finca La Esperanza in order to go to Laguna Grande de la Sierra. From El Himat, there is a trail to El Hotelito, the first camp, taking about 5 or 6 hours (i don't know this way very clear because i havent done it before). On the other hand, leaving Finca La Esperanza, there is a trail that takes you first the El Valle de los Fraylejones in about an hour, a beatiful place where is recomended to camp if you want to divide the way Laguna Grande in two days. From here, it comes the hardest part of the way to the lagoon, spending about three hours going up to the camp. Tha trail is well marked, with a posible bivoauc hafl an hour before the lagoon called La Cueva del Hombre. Finally, from the camp at the lagoon, you must take a trail to El Paso de Vellavista, a cross point between Nevado El Toti and Nevado Pan de Azúcar, where the route begins. there are some places where you can rent a mule and fire a guide to get to the lakes and the base camps. these are the prices depending the place you may want to go to.
|RUTA ||PRECIO GUÍA / DÍA ||PRECIO MULA / DÍA |
|From Lagunillas to: || || |
|Lagunillas ||$ 15000 pesos (US 6) ||$ 15000 pesos (US 6) |
|Hotelito ||$ 20000 pesos (US 8) ||$ 20000 pesos (US 8) |
|Púlpito ||$ 20000 pesos (US 8) || |
|Laguna La Plaza ||$ 35000 pesos (US 14) ||$ 30000 pesos (US 12) |
|From Finca La Esperanza to: || || |
|Valle de los Fraylejones ||$ 15000 pesos (US 6) ||$ 20000 pesos (US 8) |
|Laguna Grande de la Sierra ||$ 20000 pesos (US 8) ||$ 25000 pesos (US 10) |
|From Cabañas de Kanwara to: || || |
|Base Camp Ritacubas ||$ 25000 pesos (US 10) ||$ 20000 pesos (US 8) |
|Laguna Grande Los Verdes ||$ 30000 pesos (US12) ||$ 25000 pesos (US 10) |
|Laguna El Avellanal ||$ 60000 pesos (US 24) ||$ 45000 pesos (US 18) |
|Tickets. || || |
|Bogotá - El Cocuy - Guicán ||$ 33000 pesos (US 14) || |
|Milk track ||$ 6000 pesos (US 4) || |
The National Park require you to pay a ticket in order to get into the park. it costs $ 6000 (2 dollars) and $ 3000 (1 dollar) to students, showing an id card. The park is open all the time during the year. The laws for protected areas in Colombia apply to this park, which the most important to keep in mind are not to take out any plants or animals from the park. Furthermore, the local authorities of the park prohibit to make any fire inside the park, and also there are some areas where is recommended not to visit them in order to protect the ecosystem.
When To Climb
The best season to go climbing is between December and February, when you have very high posibilities of find really good weather. Another good season is June to August, when the weather it might be very changeable. The other months are usually plenty of rain and snow, but due to the geographical location, the weathar can change quickly and you may find good conditions at this months.
it is recomended to camp at the places where is alowed for. At Laguna Grande de la Sierra, there is a big camp with water and good conditions. The Hotelito is pretty good place camp too.
As i said before, the best seasons to go are between December and February , and June to August. When the weather gets really bad, is pretty difficult to climb this mountain taking the north west route due to its difficulty.