Ascent of Volcán Tajumulco on 2014-10-08

Climber: Sean C

Others in Party:Yarden
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Volcán Tajumulco
    Elevation:13845 ft / 4219 m

Ascent Trip Report

Bought tent & sleeping bag in Cemaco, Xela, slept for the night then caught first chicken bus to San Marcos (San Pedro town) - it left at 5am, about 1hour & 10Q. Had breakfast here & changed to a bus to Tajumulco (5Q)- ask the driver or conductor to drop you at the trailhead (Llano de la Guardia), or just tell him ("Quiero subir el volcán") - he will probably have guessed this anyway.

We arrived at the trailhead (it is opposite a shop & there is a rusty old sign) at about 9am & started our hike on the 4x4 road. The hike up was scenic with clear skies & great views, but not that challenging. We reached the campsite by midday, had lunch & set up our tent. The sky was still clear, so we considered hiking to the other peak, but decided instead to chop up firewood with our machetes & make a shelter for the friendly dog who had followed us up.

By the time we had finished this it had clouded over a bit, so we decided not to risk the hike in case we got caught in bad weather (we didn't have a change of clothes). A friendly local family descended from the summit during this time, a father, mother, ~5 year old & infant. They were the only people we would see on the hike that day, apart from the villagers at the start of the trail.

It rained for about an hour between 6-7pm, but that soon cleared & the stars came out, lots of them. We started our ascent to the top at about 4am & arrived just in time to see a blood moon setting over the Pacific - spectacular. The path to the summit from the camp was tricky to follow in the dark, it is not really marked & we first ended up on top of another peak that is not the actual summit. Eventually, after consulting the GPS on my phone & a saved .gpx for from this site we found the (unmarked) summit.

The visibility from the summit was almost perfect, but it was VERY cold - the campsite at the summit was a frozen puddle of water (there had been ice outside our tent at the main campsite too). We had the summit all to ourselves, so spent at least an hour taking photos of the shadow of Tajumulco as the sun rose, of the Pacific, of the other volcanoes.

Eventually we headed down, packed up our tent & hiked back to the trailhead where we caught a bus back to San Marcos. We met two Guatemalan brothers hiking up for the first time, & two Asian tourists. Both groups were doing one day hikes, easily done for anyone of decent fitness. Was glad we did the overnight hike though for the spectacular sunrise.

* There were no fees or permits for this hike, all the locals we met along the way were friendly & we never felt unsafe, although we were two 20-something guys with machetes... Have heard that the local villagers are unhappy they don't get an income from the volcano, there were protests a couple of weeks after we climbed. Check the situation before climbing, Quetzaltrekkers are a non-profit based in Xela who organise group hikes (including guide & equipment) a couple times a week.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3897 ft / 1187 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Raining, Frigid, Windy, Clear
Rain for about 1hr, 6-7pm, otherwise dry.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3897 ft / 1187 m
    Route:Trail from Llano de la Guardia
    Start Trailhead:Llano de la Guardia  9948 ft / 3032 m
Descent Statistics
    Route:Trail to Llano de la Guardia

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