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Ascent of Volcán Concepción on 2015-11-29

Climber: Richard Mclellan

Others in Party:Denise Mclellan
Date:Sunday, November 29, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Volcán Concepción
    Location:Nicaragua
    Elevation:1609 m / 5282 ft

Ascent Trip Report

We based ourselves at Finca San Juan de la Isla on the E side of the island. The Finca aims to be an upmarket resort offering expensive rooms and lakeside cabins, we negotiated camping for US$20/night, not cheap, but convenient and a safe place to leave the tent. It’s a lovely location, lots of bird life and serves good reasonably priced food and cold beer. They work hard at selling tours and if you mention climbing any of the volcanoes they will tell you it’s only allowed with a guide. I have no evidence this is the case.

Ometepe is very much a tourist island so there is plenty of opportunity to pay ‘tourist prices’. Contrary to what you are told, there is a perfectly good and frequent public bus service so there is no need to pay for expensive taxis. Try to get one of the small passenger ferries timetabled as ‘Lancha’ for at least one of the San Jorge / Moyogalpa journeys, we found it quite an experience as waves swilled over the deck and a crew member remorselessly pumped the bilges while the engine chugged away as it no doubt had for its many years of service. Moyogalpa has food shops, places to eat, fuel station, ATM and plenty of accommodation.

We left the Finca at 07:53 (later than we’d have liked but we’d paid for breakfast!) and followed the track up through Banana/Plantain(?) plantation to the main road. Turned right along the road and after 10minutes reach a dirt track on the left, we take this track which slowly diverges from the main road, lots of small farms, everyone friendly. At 08:40 we reach a definite cross ‘roads’ amongst group of buildings one offering ice cream for sale. We turn left onto the rubble rubbish strewn track which ascends towards Volcan Concepcion. The track narrows to a path and at 09:20 we reach a clearing with small shelter and sign requesting US$2/person to climb the volcano. There is no one around so we continue climbing steeply on rocky path through forest and vegetation. At alt. 900m the path traverses right and descends into a rocky gully. Easily up the shady gully for 100m before exiting onto the hillside by narrow path on RHS. (for return, start of path is marked by tall cairn on hillside) A good path continues ascending through waxy leaved shrubs and a gradually increasing number of prickly stems and leathery leaved Gunnera. By 1400m the hillside is almost entirely tall Gunnera and the narrow path steep, wet and rocky. The temperature is cool and wisps of cloud blow over the summit, otherwise blue sky and sunshine. About 50m below the crater rim the vegetation ends abruptly and a scrabbly loose rock scree path reaches the crater rim (13:05) Cloud comes and goes, the far side falls away steeply into the crater, rock and ash, walls steaming with patches of yellow sulphur. The jagged crater rim does nothing to encourage a traverse, through the misty cloud rises a high point to our right, hard to tell the steepness and difficulty in the mist. To our left the rim is lower. The rim is fragments of ash semi melted together but insufficient to hold the fragments together, it’s like walking on ‘ball bearing on a tin roof’. To add to the difficulty the next few m of rim overhang the crater. We traverse the steep outer edge of the rim – not easy. After 50m we rejoin the ridge and I continue alone to check out the next section reaching the summit and returning for Denise. The ridge narrows with a couple of nasty drops to either side before widening for the final climb to the summit, it’s not a route to recommend and not a route for the feint hearted in places it’s best tackled ‘a cheval’. We reach the summit marked by 2 corroding metal stakes at 13:51. (GPS. N11.53836Deg. W085.62264Deg. Alt.1645m). We catch glimpses of views through fleeting cloud the wind now quite strong. Cold.
To our W a steep lava slope descends to forest and as the gradient lessons on the lower slopes small fields extend to the coast and shimmering water of Lake Nicaragua. A well worn trail marked by paint takes this route to the village of La Conception. We hadn’t intended a crossing of Volcan Concepcion but this is our obvious route down. Descend the solid rock lava slope for 600m, very windy, then lunch in shelter of bushes. Well marked trail descends through forest, terrain not as steep as the E side and more ferns. Pass a basic wooden shelter at 935m alt. The path joins farm tracks between fields and we reach the main road at a large brown sign “Sendero Volcan Concepcion“ (17:00) We set off walking W along the road, Volcan Concepcion glowing warmly in the evening sun. A pick-up gives us a lift to Moyogalpa where we have time to buy a cold coke before catching the 17:30 bus to Altagracia the driver dropping us of at the turning to Finca San Juan (18:05). Walk back down the farm track in darkness and the bright sparks of light from glow worms.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1563 m / 5128 ft
    Elevation Loss:1460 m / 4790 ft
    Distance:17.4 km / 10.8 mi
    Grade/Class:YDS2 v nasty on rim
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Cloud on summit, increasingly windy in afternoon, cold on summit
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1563 m / 5128 ft
    Distance:11.6 km / 7.2 mi
    Route:East side
    Trailhead:Fincan San Juan de la Isla  46 m / 154 ft
    Time Up:5 Hours 33 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1460 m / 4790 ft
    Distance:5.8 km / 3.6 mi
    Route:Sendero Volcan Concepcion
    Trailhead:La Concepcion village  149 m / 492 ft
    Time Down:3 Hours 15 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Mclellan
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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