Volcan Cumbal

  • Volcan Cumbal
  • 4764 m.
  • Primary factor 1579 m.
  • South in Colombia
  • Location North 00.95541, West 077.88657 (GPS on the smmit)
  • Climbed December 18, 2017


How to get there:
This mountain is located far south in Colombia, pretty close to the border with Ecuador. The small town of Cumbal is located at the base of the volcano. The closest larger city in Colombia is Pasto. Cumbal is about 2 hours drive from Pasto. One may start the ascent from the town square in Cumbal, right in front of a pretty nice church. This location is N00.90957, W077.79287, elevation about 3140 meter.
Route description:
When facing the mountain, walk one block left of the church, then locate a main street that heads gently uphill and pretty much in the direction of the volcano. One may also buy a (cheap) ride with a motorbike from the town square as far as to the rifugio de Cumbal, but the walk is also worthwhile and only about 1.5 - 2 hours.
Keep walking along this street until it leaves town. At location N00.91163, W077.80870, pavement ends, your elevation is approaching 3200 meter.
In what follows, you should keep left at the next 3 road forks. The first two are signed for Volcan Cumbal. There are farm houses along this road almost all the way to the rifugio. The rifugio is located at N00.92437, W077.85578, the elevation is now about 3540 meter.
Here is useful contact information in case obe would like to make a reservation.
This rifugio is a convenient place to stay for the night, they offer beds with warm blankets as well as the serving of meals. The prices are very affordable. The volcano can easily be climbed as a day hike, it all depends on your schedule and when you were able to start.
From the rifugio, continue along the dirt (farm) road until it ends. What continues is a pretty large trail connecting to the main volcano slopes. Follow what is the biggest trail as it climbs uphill. This trail continues all the way to the crater, often marked with small cairns. Beyond the vegetation, the trail climbs in many zig-zags, finally traversing into a small ravine that connects to the lowest entry point to the crater. There are two characteristic small holes in the ground on your right hand side where sulphur gas is coming out, reminding climbers about the fact that this is a volcano.
Finally, ascend more steeply to your left in order to reach the higher section of the crater rim. This section is a bit loose and care should be exercised.
What remains is then an easy stroll the last few meter to the summit cairn.
We arrived directly from Santa Marta via Bogota to Pasto the day before. The flight was not without interest as the Pasto airport, located about 30 kilometer north of the city, is constructed across the top of a mountain with steep drops at either end of the runway. Our flight was about 10 meter above the runway when the right wing took a dip down and the pilot immediately aborted the landing. At full throttle, we thundered back up into the sky. It took a full 30 minutes before our pilot made a new attempt, I was a bit worried that we would fly to another airport. However, at this time we landed safely with a big applause from most of the passengers.
We established headquarter / base camp at hotel Torre del Bousque, quite a descent place with nice rooms and good service.
The next morning we set out for Cumbal with a hotel driver. The price was 300.000 pesos each way. Arriving in Cumbal around noon, we agreed that the driver should pick us up the next day at 1500, then headed for lunch.
After lunch we had an easy afternoon stroll up to the rifugio where we booked dinner and breakfast plus lodging in the small tower. Stig and Pål downstairs, while I took the upstairs bed. Dinner was served around 1900, fried trout-fish from a local pond. Very tasty. They did not have much for sale, so when one of the guys indicated that he would make a run back into town on his motor bike, we asked him to buy 6 cans of beer, 3 bars of chocolate and one big bottle of coke. He returned just in time for dinner - so beer with dinner.
The next morning, we had breakfast around 0600 and we were ready to hike by 0620. The climb was uneventful, unfortunately, the weather was not as nice as yesterday, we quickly climbed into the clouds. Arriving at the summit at 0920, the wind was gale force and the place a rather unhospitable location. We quickly descended (after only 10 minutes) back into the crater and calmer weather.
The return hike back to the rifugio took 1:50. Three cold beers were waiting in the fridge, we paid for great service and left by 1150. The hike back into town took 1:20, arriving there shortly before 1300 and time for lunch. Shortly after 1400, we walked back to the town square and before long our driver showed up a bit early as expected. A nice drive back to Pasto, arriving at our hotel before 1700.