Manfred ( our stylish Italian) sent me these 3 photos taken on his mobile phone. Time to replace my old camera!!!! Do you like my tatty borrowed coat?
Yesterday we set off with an English couple and a stylish Italian, all three half our age, to climb up dormant Acatenango volcano with Juan, our gentle Guatemalen guide. It was a really steep rigorous climb starting at 2,400m arriving at our ‘campsite’ at 3956m. At 4am this morning we scrambled up the last 200m to reach the summit (3976m) in time for sunrise. Going up was surprisingly easy because of lots of pauses for Katerine who suffers with asthma (a brave girl!). We ascended through oak forest, then (my fav) the cloud forest before reaching alpine forest and flowers. As we gained height I was thrilled to hear the roar of active Volcán Fuego 3km away, erupting roughly every 20-30mins. At the campsite watched the eruptions well into the night. Throughout the night the volcano roared and exploded, the tent canvas clapping with sound waves.
Then at 4am this morning we scrambled up the last 200m to reach the summit (3976m) in time for sunrise. By the time we realised our route was quite dangerous, we were committed, and struggled up 45′ gradients with hand held torches in the spooky dark (v cloudy), clambering over lava boulders and sliding up loose cinder. We sheltered from gale force winds close to the summit then carefully reached the perfectly rounded top -no crater- at 3976m, for a beautiful sunrise. Between the clouds we could see village lights way way below, and then Fuergo volcán erupted again, and it was magic. By this time we were freezing cold, despite my night attire – three top and bottom layers, plus hat, gloves and two coats!! So we decended to our camp fire for chocolaté, cocoa flakes stewed with sugar in hot water, granola with yoghurt and a chicken pot noodle. Juan made me a vegetarian alternative, mushroom soup from a powder mix (knotted in cling film) in a grubby bowl and spoon he wiped on his shirt! Bless he really tried hard to please us.
The route is very popular at the weekend, we must have met at least 200 going up with heavy packs (at least our camping gear was already on site). Most were Guatemalans, in wealthy North Face gear, no-one close our age. And being Guatemala, we greeted every single one!!