Erwin Kraus, the first climber 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
The summit of Ritacuba Blanco is the highest point of the Cordillera Oriental and is known to be one of the most beatiful mountains en Colombia. It is located in the National Park Cocuy with an alttitude of 5330 meters. Along the park, the Ritacuba Blanco is an obligated mountain to go climbing due to it's technical level of climbing and also to it's beatiful view of the rest of the park and the Llanos Orientales. The mountain has two main routes; the normal is by the glacier, which is a relative easy walk on. On the other hand, there is the east wall, which is one of the most difficult routes of rock climbing, openned the last year. At the middle of the glacier, a thin edge diverges from this point and becomes the traverse to the Ritacuba Negro.
First of all, it's important to know where tha National Park of Cocuy is located. it is at the north of the Cordillera Oriental, in the province of Boyacá. It is surrended by the towns of El Cocuy, Guicán and Chita. in order to get to the base camp of Ritacuba Blanco, you must take a track which leaves Guican at 5:00 am in the morning, goes to El Cocuy and then take the way up the mountains, picking up milk from all the farms along the way, returning to Guican. this track drop you by at the Cabañas de Kanwara, a place where there are posibilities of spending the night, paying a horse and guides and taking some rest before and after the climbing. from here you start to walk up to the base camp, spending about 3 or 4 hours. the walk is not very challenge and is quite beatiful. the base camp of the mountain is about 4700 meter high. There is a track that leaves El Cocuy about 6 am, and goes up to the mountains, recolecting the milk from many farms along the way until Guican. this track drops the climbers by the diferents places or farms located in the limits of the park, in order to start walking to the base camps of the mountains. 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 only permits required is from the office of the park, located both in Guican and El Cocuy. it has a cost of $ 6000, but showing a student card, it is only $3000. The National Park of El Cocuy belongs to the national network of protected areas of Colombia, which has many laws about conservation of biodiversity, protection of the water and also restrictions such as making fire inside national parks, hunting animals and extracting plants from this areas.
When To Climb
the better season to go climbing is between December and February, when the weather is fully summer. Then, between March and June, the weather becomes harder and the conditions of climbing are not adecuates. The next to months, july and Agust, the weather conditions changes a lot, so you may also have sunny days but the rain and the snow can appear any time. Finally, September, October and November are not recomended to go climbing.
normally, the camping is at the base camp, but also you can make an advanced camp on the glaciar. this one is made priorly when the group wants to climg the Ritacuba Negro, the very close neighbor of the Ritacuba Negro.
The National Park of El Cocuy has a very changeable conditions along the year due to the incidence of the east winds coming down from los Llanos Orientales and the warm west winds coming from the cañón del Río Chicamocha. Furthermore, there are not stations of summer and winter very marked eventhough December, January, Febraury, June , July and August are known to be summer's months and the rest of the months with hard winters. The geographic position of this mountains makes the weather unpredictable, so in the summer months mencionated before you may also find really hard days of rain, snow and winds, or enjoy sunny days in the winter months. you can find information about the weather in Colombia in: www.ideam.gov.co