Ascent of Nevado de Toluca on 2012-01-07

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Ryan Courtney -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Adam Helman -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Duane Gilliland
Greg Slayden -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Collin Kamholz
Date:Saturday, January 7, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Nevado de Toluca
    Elevation:15354 ft / 4679 m

Ascent Trip Report

After our morning ascent of Cerro Ajusco we drove via Toluca to the Nevado Toluca approach road (good dirt surface, turn off main highway at N19.15346 W99.80444). We stopped at the entrance gate (N19.13271 W99.79054, 3700m) to pay the entry fee pesos/vehicle), then turned sharp L onto the Toluca road (again, good dirt surface) and finished the day camped at a pull-in a few km farther on, at N19.13672 W99.79024, 3789m, with the snow dusted mountain ridge towering above us and a few degrees of frost at our campsite.

Next morning we drove up to the trailhead (N19.11925 W99.74795, 4139m). It is no longer allowed to drive to the crater, for conservation reasons. We had breakfast, booked one of the trailhead cabins for the evening and started hiking at 09:30. It was cold overnight (-6°C) and there was snow on the mountain so as a precaution we took ice axes and crampons.

A wide trail leads directly uphill to a saddle at N19.11242 W99.75232, 4275m. Here we descended L to a crater lake where we kept R along the shore then headed straight uphill, crossing a dirt road, to reach a saddle at N19.10089 W99.76065, 4443m. There were clearly no snow issues so most of us left our axes and crampons hidden here (thus committing ourselves to coming back the same way).

The trail continues, soon reaching the base of a climb (N19.10126 W99.76278). This goes at Class 3; the rock is good. It is possible to avoid the climb but this involves a descent and reascent on scree. Above the climb, loose ground is crossed to another saddle (N19.10126 W99.76414, 4559m). The best route from here is straight up a Class 2+ rocky crest, then along a blocky ridge to another saddle (xxx). We made an ascending traverse direct to the saddle, but this was on loose snowy rock, and less pleasant.

Above this last saddle the summit rears up as a forbidding pinnacle which reminded some of us of Oregon's Mt Jefferson. However it is barely Class 3. A good trail initially keeps L of the rocky crest then ascends R between two impressive pinnacles. Then just head straight up a blocky ridge, keeping R of the crest. The summit (N19.10185 W99.76759, 4688m) is a small slanting block, not too exposed; we took turns to be photographed standing on it.

This was Adam's hundredth Ultra and it would have been hard to choose a more impressive summit. The mountain has fine structure and the view included Popocatapetl which was quite active today with several gas plumes seen during the day.

The standard descent is to continue along the ridge a short way then descend an easy scree gully. Duane had kept his axe and crampons with him and was able to make this descent. However Adam, Greg and I had stashed our tools so we headed back the way we had come. After the first descent we lazed in the sunshine waiting for Ryan and Collin who were some way behind. They appeared with a group of Mexican climbers, and proceeded to the summit. So we continued our sunbathing. Our two comrades returned and we all headed down. We used a half-rope to safeguard the Class 3 section (the top of the pitch is at N19.10115 W99.76304) although it is not really necessary. Once below the pitch we retrieved our hardware and returned to the car. Adam went ahead and linked up with Duane who had been down a good while already. The 70m reascent to the last saddle was tough - a real sting in the tail.

Back at the trailhead I enjoyed a cold beer and a large bag of papas fritas in the last of the sunshine. It had been a great day - not quite the easy half day we had expected.

We spent the night in one of the cabins at the trailhead (4 bunks, sink, electricity, 100 pesos/person). The next day we travelled to our next objective - Volcán La Malinche.

Toluca photo album

A trip summary/overview can be found at the end of my Orizaba report

For a comprehensive illustrated description of the whole trip, see Adam Helman's expedition report
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2299 ft / 699 m
    Extra Gain:262 ft / 79 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.6 mi / 7.4 km
    Route:East ridge
    Trailhead:Normal (NE) trailhead  13579 ft / 4138 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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