Cerro San Luis

  • Cerro San Luis
  • 4051 m.
  • Primary factor 1136 m.
  • Chingaza National Park HP:
  • Location North 04.44982, West 073.76432 (GPS on the smmit)
  • Climbed December 3, 2017


How to get there:
Starting from Bogota, the drive to the trailhead takes about 3 hours. First, drive to the lower station of the cableway that serves Monserrate. Continue on this road, following signs for Choachi. Note that this road has a sharp left fork shortly after you leave the cableway station. The road crosses at elevation close to 3300 meter before descending to Choachi.
In Choachi, when in the center of town, make a right and follow signs for Fómeque. Again note that this road forks sharply left while what looks like the main road continues to Ubaque.
You cross the river at about 1600 meter before the road ascends to Fómeque. Drive through town, to the upper end and locate the dirt road that exits town signed for Chingaza.
This road has some bad, muddy spots (Dec. 2017), thus a 4WD is good advice. The road climbs to about 3200 meter, note the bend at location N04.47724, W073.78710. As you continue, the road now crosses a stream, then continues into an open pasture. There is a short, steep downhill, then you arrive at a small, concrete bridge. Park off the road here, the location is N04.48229, W073.78267, elevation about 3200 meter.

Route description:
From the trailhead, walk uphill on the open pasture. As you get higher, continue up into a more narrow section where also a small creek exits from the denser jungle. There is a small fence on your right hand side.
A small trail starts here, initially just slightly left (when looking uphill) of the creek. This trail crosses the small creek several times, then climbs more steeply on the right side (after you also cross the fence), up through dense vegetation and into open grass land higher up.
Try (hard) to follow the trail through the grass, this may be hard, it generally runs uphill, a bit left in the beginning. This route connects to another small, but nice trail higher up, where again one needs to cross a belt of denser vegetation.
This trail gains the top of a small ridge at location N04.47630, W073.77577, elevation about 3470 meter. Next, the trail makes a short descent and gets you into slightly friendlier terrain.
From here, one should contour around (left) and gradually loose some elevation as the route heads downhill to the main creek, eventually also crossing this to the other side. Here, one should be able to find a pretty good trail that will lead up the valley and stay on a couple of broad ridges that avoids denser vegetation.
We left Bogota pretty early as the description said we might spend as much as 3 hours to drive to the trailhead. This was pretty accurate as we were parked at 0815. Hiking at 0830, our first challenge was finding a trail through the dense vegetation at the upper end of the pasture where we started out. After some trial and error a small path next to a creek and a fence was located and it got us across to a new area with grass higher up. The challenge repeated here and we were able to sneak through, but did not find the correct trail here until our return hike.
Quite some jungle and obviously, very few hikers. Finally, out in more open terrain with nice plants scattered around. We crossed a very bad meadow with tall bamboo-like grass, one should definitely avoid this which we did on our return hike. Then, the small lake appeared and we could see the terrain connecting us to the peaks.
Our goal, Cerro San Luis, stood in the back, pretty sharp and with a twin top behind it.
We arrived at the summit at 1240, so 3:40 from the car, mainly due to trouble with dense jungle. Another sharp peak was barely visible in the fog, but it was nearby. Hard to tell if it was the higher summit. It was separated from us by a 30 meter deep col and scrambling (YDS class 3) was needed in order to get down. We next climbed this peak and took GPS readings. Both our barometer as well as the satelites agreed that this peak was about 4 meter lower. This was also our impression when looking back to our first summit.
Finally, there was a third summit, clearly lower, but with some sort of summit marker, we visited this as well in order to make our traverse of the summits complete.