Ascent of Cerro El Zamorano on 2014-02-13

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, February 13, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cerro El Zamorano
    Elevation:11043 ft / 3365 m

Ascent Trip Report

I arrived at the Cerro El Zamorano trailhead in Los Trigos not long after sunrise after spending another night in a cheap roadside motel outside of Colón. The shower was a welcome reward after Cerro La Joya. Of note, I found an amazing roadside restaurant near Jalpan that I had dinner in following Cerro La Joya. The nopal cactus complimented the rice, beans, and meat very well. I initially missed the turn to the left, which I had marked on my GPS, and quickly backtracked to it. There is indeed a locked gate to access the road to the peak. I decided that I needed a decent hike instead of a drive up, so I parked the car near the gate and walked through the unlocked pedestrian/equestrian gate next to the car gate. You pass through a cattle guard at the upper end of the farmer's fields as you enter a canyon leading up to the peak.

The road was under construction at the first switchback by a road crew who I shared morning tea with. I hung out for about 15 minutes before departing for the summit. A few use trails cut off some of the road switchbacks, and I used a few of them. Near the top I ended up on a long switchback that took me away from the peak which I avoided on the descent by taking a use trail. I ended up at a lower gate, different from the gate described in the reports by Rob Woodall and Adam Helman. This gate was clearly marked in Spanish as private property, no trespassing. I dutifully ignored the sign and went around the fence to the left where a large hole exists in the dirt, that just about anybody can fit through with their pack off. I took some photos of this in the photo set linked below.

There were guys working on the other side of the fence as this was a weekday. I figured I had made a lot of Mexican friends and I could get these guys to like me and let me pass. I waved hello and said "Buenos dias." They waved back and said the same. I continued up the ladder network to the large building at the top of the ladders. There were 2 more workers up here. I said "Buenos dias" again and started heading in the wrong direction. They were nice enough to point me in the direction of the "elevacion mayor." When you get to this building (from what I can tell, it is pretty regularly inhabited), head to your right (SE) to the set of stairs behind the building at the far end and take these up to the high point. I found the boulders referenced in previous trip reports, climbing all possible contenders and snapping pictures in every location. The nicest place for views was by the big religious shrine.

I had a snack on top, but it was not yet lunch time. I passed all of the workers on the way down saying hello again. They had brought a large tank up to the building while I was on the summit, using a cable car that they have in operation here. They brought some stuff down on it while I was headed down the ladders, so I took some pictures as they may be of interest to other hikers. They did not seem to mind my presence at all and like most signs in Mexico, everybody ignores no trespassing signs. I like this laid back attitude as compared to the American/asshole attitude towards hikers on peaks. I briefly chatted with the workers before going back outside the gate and following the road down.

I met up with the road crew just as they were settling in for lunch. They invited me to join and I did. We all chatted for a while and messed around. A great group of guys, who were all interested in my hikes around Mexico. My Spanish is pretty decent, so we had no issues communicating. I hung out with them for about 40 minutes before departing. They said if I was ever back in Los Trigos, that I had to look them up to hang out and drink cerveza.

My next objective would be Nevado de Toluca, but this wouldn't be an adventure if I just drove there and hiked the peak. Naturally, I had become comfortable with all of the random roadside taco stands I had been eating at without getting sick, and I became complacent. As I headed through San Juan del Rio, I inexplicably stopped at a roadside juice stand and grabbed a drink, full of ice and local water. Needless to say, this thwarted my goal of driving to the Nevado de Toluca park and camping at a high elevation before my climb of Nevado de Toluca. I barely made it to another roadside motel in San Miguel Zinacantepec (near Toluca). I weighed my options, took all the meds I had been given by my doctor in case of this contingency, and decided to wake up early and let the "revenge" be damned. I was climbing Nevado de Toluca sick or well.

GPX notes:
I left a GPS waypoint where you turn right at a fork in the paved road. The road is a mix of cobblestone and pavement all the way to Los Trigos, easily passable to any car. The left turn and subsequent locked gate on the right are both easy to miss as well.


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2611 ft / 795 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2611 ft / 795 m
    Route:Dirt Road
    Start Trailhead:8432 ft / 2570 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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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