This weekend, I climbed Tajumulco, the highest mountain in Central America. It is possibly the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was also really fun! I went with 4 other girls from the group: Kate, Rheana, Liz, and Andrea. We went with the Quetzaltrekkers, a group out of Xela. The Quetzaltrekkers are all volunteers, and the money they raise from the hikes is for a school for street children. Our group ended up being 26 people and 5 guides.
We left at 5:45 on Saturday morning and took a chicken bus (stopping for breakfast along the way) to the base of the mountain. At the base, we were already at 3000 meters. We climbed to our campsite at 4000 meters in about 4 and a half hours - we took quite a few trail mix breaks. It was incredibly difficult since we had gigantic packs that were really heavy since we each had to bring 4 liters of water along with all of the other supplies. After we had lunch, we set up camp and then climbed Cerro Concepción, the smaller of the two peaks. We had hot chocolate and pasta around a campfire before heading off to bed.
The night was freezing! I have learned from this experience that I am not a big fan of camping. However, I realize that not all camping is done at 4000 meters. Most people had some form of altitude sickness. I was relatively fine - just a bit dizzy and the occasional feeling that I couldn’t breathe - but I didn’t end up sleeping much. We didn’t end up spending too much time in the tents, however, because we woke up 4am to climb to the summit.
The final climb was really tough, with many rocks to scramble over in the dark, but it was definitely worth it. We brought our sleeping bags, which we climbed into as soon as we reached the top to await the sunrise. We were able to watch the sun come up through the clouds since we were above them at 4222 meters! It was beautiful and started to warm up really quickly since we were so close to the sun. We climbed down around the crater - Tajumulco is a dormant volcano - and were able to see many of the other mountain peaks poking through the clouds. We climbed down in a little less than 2 hours and were back in Xela by 4 on Sunday. I’m still a bit delirious, and my legs are not particularly pleased with me, but I am so glad that I did it. It was an absolutely amazing experience!
The pictures are of: the peak from the campsite, the peak from Cerro Concepción, the end of my sleeping bag as I waited for the sunrise, the sun poking up through the clouds, the clouds rolling over the mountains below us, me with my pack at the top, the crater with half the group on the ridge across the way, the shadow of Tajumulco with the peak of Tacaná (a nearby mountain), the view with the sun up, and the view looking down from the ridge.