Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Climbing Volcan Fuego (and Acatenango)

Haven't updated in awhile...Between internet outages, Thanksgiving, the baby, two short trips and plain slothfulness, I haven't managed it...

Thought I would put up a few pictures from the trip though.

As you may know from Survivor Guatemala (can you believe Stephanie turned on Judd?!? Can you believe that I watch that show every week!?!?!) Guatemala has 30 volcanoes. From the capital you can see at least 4 of them: Agua(3,759m/11,348ft.), Pacaya(2,551m/8,369 ft.), Fuego(3,769m/12,365ft.) and Acatenango(3,975m/13,041ft.) (of which Pacaya and Fuego are active).

On the Friday after Thanksgiving my friend Dan, his friend Mike and I traveled out for an overnight camping trip to Fuego. We met up with two guides and were dropped off on the north side of Acatenango. Notice the change in names there? The plan, I was to discover, was to actually climb over the top of one volcano and down the other side to a shoulder between the two where we would camp the night. We carried all of our camping gear, food and water as there were no facilities at all on the mountains.

I'm not exactly in peak physical condition right now...a fact that became abundantly clear about 100 yards up the trail from the beginning. It took a considerable amount of willpower not to call the driver back to pick me up in the first hour...actually, to be honest, more like the first five hours. The huge pack I was carrying certainly didn't help things, but I'm sure it wasn't more than 30-40 pounds.

Summit of Volcan Acatenango (the second time)

Only one mishap on the way up...well, not really mishap, more like a misunderstanding. I did not understand that Acatenango has two peaks, so you can imagine my surprise when we reached the top of the first and looked out to see that I had a whole second peak to complete that was even higher than the first. Of course, in hindsight, it's pretty ridiculous to be upset about it as I can clearly see from the balcony at our house that it has two peaks, just as I could from the road in Antigua.

We summitted the second peak, took some pictures and made our way down the shoulder to camp. During the night we could hear the rumble of Fuego as it vented. It sounded like a not so far away jet engine and occasionally made the ground shake a little.

Anivel on Acatenango

We woke at 4am to pack up camp and headed part way up Fuego to watch the sunrise.
Sunrise over Volcan Agua and Pacaya 2

Dan and the guides enjoyed a victory cigar with the sunrise.

Puro de Victoria

Leaving our packs on the trail, we climbed the rest of the way up Fuego to watch some of the lava venting. Unfortunately the crater itself is too dangerous to approach so we had to stop 400 yards shy of the top. Also unfortunate is that right now the lava flow (a trickle really) is on the opposite side from the trailhead, so we could only see lava when it really spurted out like this:

Lava Venting

Coming down, as the cliche goes, was much harder than going up. Lots of loose scree, and difficult overgrown paths, but we did, of course, eventually make it down...

All in all a good, though short trip.

Sunrise over Volcan Agua and Pacaya

A couple pictures of the kids and our Christmas/new years plans next post...