Cerro Chemal

  • Cerro Chemal
  • 3837 m
  • Primary factor 1878 m
  • Guatemala
  • Location: North 15.51823, West 91.54456 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 1
  • Climbed December 10. 2016.


How to get there:
A good point of reference (hotels, restaurants etc.) is the town Huehuetenango. From the central area of town, drive north, the best road runs on the right hand side of a small valley. This road (called 9N on the map), eventually hits a T-junction. Go left here, but quite soon, you must turn right. You should get to the higher village called Chiantia, just as you cross a small bridge, your location should be N15.35152, W91.45851, do not proceed without locating this point!. Continue uphill through town, the road will eventually exit on the upper end and continue as a nice, paved road that steeply climbs the huge hillside above. Near the top is a place called La Capellania. Continue along the main road until you arrive in a small village with a signed road-fork. (All roads being paved). You should have driven approximately 22.2 kilometer from the bridge at the lower end of Chiantia. Measure from here. Take the right fork and continue 7.3 kilometer. At this point, there is a new fork, go left here. At kilometer 12.9, you have arrived at a cluster of houses. A smaller road forks 90 degrees left at this point. You may decide to park here, the remaining distance to the trailhead is short and the road is rougher. Continue along this road, a short section until you reach a locked gate. One may park off the road on the right hand side. This location is N15.52935, W91.53809, elevation a bit above 3600 meter.
Route description:
Continue along the road, then fork right as you see higher terrain up on your right. There are numerous small tracks and trails and the distance to the summit is rather short. The summit area has several small humps, only 1-2 meter high, that are quite close in elevation. The highest point may actually be in the middle of an area with dense vegetation. One point has a clear view across to the slightly lower Cerro Chemal- Pico Torre.
In order to make this trip more than one hour long, consider the hike across to the peak further south, Pico Torre.
I left our hotel shortly before 0730. However, I failed to find the proper right turn in order to get to Hwy. 9N, the only paved road that climbs to the top of this very impressive, high plateau.
I ended up on quite a long and complex maze of local dirt roads, partly climbing rather steeply. This route is not recommended!. Finally, after more bad, steepish roads than I have seen in a long time, I connected to Hwy. 9N, quite high up, not far from the high plateau. At least an hour of testing how my rental SUV would manage on local Guatemala farmer roads. I guess the car passed the test.
I was parked at the trailhead at 0940 and left around 0945. A 35 minute easy hike was all before arriving at the summit. Coming directly from sea-level, I did notice the 3800 meter air when walking uphill.
I continued to climb the slightly lower Pico Torre, before returning to my car at 1315.