Having scaled Tacana,it became a goal of mine to climb other prominent volcanos in Mexico. Nevado de Colima is certainly one of them, representing the tallest peak in Western Mexico. It is supposedly the 7th tallest peak in the Republic. My guide, Manuel, 34 11 10 17 67, of the tour company Mexico Turistico, informed me that the peak stands at 4280m.
What makes Nevado de Colima attractive is its views over Mexico's most active volcano, Volcano de Colima, also known as Volcan de Fuego. It can be confusing getting your head around the various names, especially as neither of these volcanoes is even in Colima. Well, a segment of Fuego lies in Colima but they are both pejoratively in Jalisco.
Which leads us to where to base oneself for the climb.
Ciudad Guzman is the closest city to the base of the volcano. I stayed at Hotel Posada del Parque in Ciudad Guzman and it could not have been a better option. Not only was it economically accessible but it had cable, wifi, was conveniently located just three blocks from the zocalo and was spotless.
I was collected from my hotel around 6:30. The drive was long but enjoyable watching the sunrise ripple across the valleys of this mountainous region of Mexico. As we wound our way up the mountain the van's tires spun in rivets of sand created by rainflow, a situation which has been exacerbated by the severe deforestation in the area. Landowners have replaced pine trees with more lucrative avocado farming.
We passed a small office where visitors must register. My guide registered for me. We drove through the big red gates and parked at a place where there is a concrete gazebo, and where two ways up converge. Everyone talks about the antennas. Yes, there are antennas further up the mountain and they are close to the best viewpoint of Volcan de Fuego. If you only wish to take some pics I believe you can drive up there but I don't think this is a place where you can park your car and go hiking.
So, from where we parked, we got out and took a gentle path which skirts, I believe to the north and west of the lower of the two peaks. It was the perfect incline to acclimatize to the altitude. Note; not all ascents start from so high up the mountain. The views of the valley to the west were enchanting with it's clear gorge or, barranca, in Spanish.
Suddenly we could see the majestic Volcan de Fuego in front of us. Unfortunately, we could not get a clear view of it as clouds rolled over it, and this is why I think spending the night on the mountain is the best way to go, so you can witness the colours at sunrise and sunset.
We took an obscure little path to the west and south which led us to the saddle. This is where the muddy path gave way to a grey sandy terrain. The way was now steeper with no trees. The peak loomed up ahead of us, it's dark jutting rocks, a formidable vision. Having traversed the volcanic desert it was time to start scrambling. We had already donned our helmets which were helpful as, when you pull yourself up you are unaware of overhanging rocks. A bash to the head would surely have dented one's moral as the climb is strenuous. My overarching sense of the whole climb was hearing my heart thumping in my head, probably as I was trying to recompense the lack of oxygen in my blood due to the high altitude.
The climb was steep and laborious. You had to haul yourself up using both hands and feet. Fortunately, the rocks were not slippery but some were loose. It was hard-going. I doubted if I would make it.
When I got to the top I was happy that the climb was over but there was not much up there bar a mast, a book where you could put your name and a plinth to someone called Lalo. There was not much to see up there as we were ensconced in the clouds. Eating was difficult as I felt nauseous.
Going down was easier. We eased ourselves down the rocky crags part of the way. Then we took a different path and slid down putting our feet in the grainy sand and letting them push down until they found resistance. I was not clock watching but I believe the excursion took roughly 8 hours. I was ecstatic to see the car, and happy to have achieved the climb.
Try to spend the night up the mountain for maximum viewing of the surroundings. I saw one tent when I was up there.
Bring gloves which will help protect your hands for the scrambling.
Bring a lot of water. Your body will be thirsty for it.
I think it would be foolhardy to attempt to climb the mountain without the knowledge and without a guide. For starters looking up, it is not even clear where the summit is. There are markers which look like an equals sign with a yellow dash through it but these are sporadic.
It was an amazing experience. To be in a place little influenced by human life.