Volcan Atitlán

  • Volcan Atitlán
  • 3537 m
  • Primary factor 1754 m
  • Guatemala
  • Location: North 14.58341, West 91.18645 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2
  • Climbed December 14. 2016.


How to get there:
This volcano is located near the famous lake having the same name. A good trailhead is located south of San Lucas Tolimán, a villlage at the south-east side of lake Atitlan. A main road runs from this villaage to the expressway CA-2. Another road runs north on the east side of the lake. The two roads join up in an intersection a bit south of town. There is a gas station located at this intersection, this is a good place to park. This location is about 100 meter up the road from N14.61779, W91.14880, see below.
Route description:
Walk 100 meter from the gas-station slightly downhill (south) along the Hwy. that runs south to CA-2. Locate a small dirt road that heads right at location N14.61779, W91.14880, elevation about 1600 meter. Take this road. Shortly, you will have a tall mast in front and the road forks on either side of it. Take the right fork. The idea is to connect with a small road that runs up from the village, one can follow this road or (better) fork left on a trail and pick a route via smaller trails across to location N14.61762, W91.15737. This is an intersection point with the small dirt road that you should locate. Turn left, the small road ends and a trail continues. The trail runs up some smooth rocks, it looks like water may flow here in the rainy season. Continue along the clear trail. You will soon hit a trail fork where you should pick the left fork going uphill. The trail passes through farmed land and gradually aims for the broad saddle that you notice to your right for the volcano.
There are signs of several camp sites in this area and also a few variations to the trail. One should pass in the neighborhood of location N14.60077, W91.18465, about 2560 meter. The main point is to locate a pretty broad passage/trail that starts running directly uphill among the trees. This route is pretty steep with few rocks and mainly soil. It relentlessly continues uphill passing location N14.59116, W91.18675, just above 3000 meter, then finally breaking out of the forest, a few hundred meter below the summit. There are clear trails that will get you up to more gentle terrain. A small hut is located in a shallow saddle, the highest point is a few steps to the riight.

After climbing Montana Pena Blanca we had moved to a hotel in Antigua. Driving there, we had explored the west shores of Lago Atitlan and noticed that a climb could start from this trailhead.
I started out from Antigua at 0400. I drove Hwy. 14 south to Escuintla where I turned west onto the 4 lane expressway CA-2. After approximately 50 kilometer on CA-2, I then turned north onto the road that connects to the town San Lucas Toliman at the Atitlan lake. Perhaps 2 kilometer before the lake, I reached the intersection with gas station on my left hand side. I was there at 0640 and paid the guy there 20 quetzales for permission to park on his lot.
Leaving at 0650, I easily found my way across to the small road that heads toward the mountain from San Lucas, The hiking was easy and I forgot to keep left at a trail fork despite having noted this from a previous trip report by Rob Woodall. This got me on to a parallel trail. Hoping that the trails would merge higher up did not seem clear, thus I crossed left on a minor farmers trail and reconnected with the official trail. In doing so, I met the local farmer and he pointed ahead while saying "camino", I guess he really thought I was off-trail, despite my GPS knowing precisely that the correct trail was about 100 meter ahead.
The trail headed for what looked like the saddle between the volcano and terrain to its right hand side. This is where you properly get onto the final, long and steep slope. The hike had taken me about 2 hours and what remained looked much closer/easier than it was.
What remains is essentially a pretty wide trail, dirt all the way. almost no rocks, that heads directly towards the top. A zig-zag trail with a slightly gentler slope would have been better. Just before breaking out of the trees, I caught up with a team of police officers, all in uniform. I passed and completed the last part of the route heading directly towards what looked like a small hut on the summit ridge. From here, the highest point was only a few steps away, arriving there at 1105.
It was nice and sunny. Lots of clouds around, but a nice view back down to the lake, 2000 vertical meter below. I could also see the two twin volcanos, Acatenango and Fuego, well hidden in the clouds to the east. They overlook Antigua and I climbed Acatenango back in February 2011.
I laid down and relaxed at the very top for about 30 minutes. When I started back down, I met the group of police, they had ascended very slowly, this final stretch.
The return hike was easy and nice with nothing much to report. I was back at my car already at 1405, so only 2.5 hours going down.
The drive back took about the same time as in the morning, I had about one hour of torrential rain with lightning along Hwy. Ca-2. The rain had not affected Antigua where I arrived well ahead of dinner time, at 1645.