Ascent of Cerro Tancítaro on 2011-12-30

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Duane Gilliland
Adam Helman -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Bob Packard
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, December 30, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cerro Tancítaro
    Elevation:12598 ft / 3839 m

Ascent Trip Report

We made this ascent the day after getting down off Cerro las Capillas. We climbed it from the southeast; 12 km round trip according to GPS although it seemed longer.

There are antennae near the summit and we had hoped to hike the access road, but our research had failed to locate a way to the start of it. Instead we drove west out of Uruapan and turned off the main highway at N 19.39544, W102.21714, following a good dirt road through the small village of San Nicholas. There are a few minor branches but this main road continues to a gate at N19.41737 W102.27108. It is possible to park nearby; however we found the gate unlocked so drove the remaining few hundred m (high clearance needed) to a rough turning head at N19.41756 W102.27398, 2955m. This was 1 km from the broad power-line clearing which we had in mind as our ascent route - a pretty good result.

We started hiking at 10:18. The main track (barbed wire gate, another in a short distance, track probably drivable for a little further if you have 4x4 and a brass neck!) leads up to the corner of an arable field then bends R through woodland. Then turn L at N19.41673 W102.27703 and then L again at N19.41805 W102.27943 onto a wider dirt road. Look out for a small path R into forest at about N19.41600 W102.28143 (we took a less efficient outward route, finding this path on the way back; there is a third barbed wire gate somewhere in this section). This crosses a small ravine and emerges into a clearing with small trees and bushes. A trail leads out of the clearing at approx N19.41744 W102.28429, ascending R, through forest (some wind-felled trees) towards some power lines, which are in a small ravine at this point. It is best to stay L (S) of the power lines, ascending through fairly open woodland until emerging into a more open area, then follow the power lines to a saddle. We were a bit farther right (north) on the way up but there is dense tussock grass on this route, which is much more eroded along the route of the power lines, as we discovered on the way down.

Once at the "powerline col" (N19.41873 W102.29815, 3690m), we followed the ridge L, avoiding most of the summits (if doing so, it is best to go over the one immediately before the comms masts). However, it is easier to make a diagonal descent, heading straight for the masts, picking up the masts access road at about N19.41643 W102.30269. It might be best to get to the second saddle after the power lines (N19.41671 W102.30522, bypassing the first little peak on its R) before making the descent.

Once on the masts access track, follow it to the comms masts (N19.41743 W102.31093, 3755m). Then keep L of the ridge line and in about 300m see a 5m rock wall. This can be climbed from N19.41885 W102.31327 by a fairly easy ledge (YDS class 3). This spot is not easy to find from above, so be sure to note/mark/waypoint it carefully ready for the return journey. The route then follows the ridge over several more summits (there is one steep drop which can be scrambled down, or bypassed on the left). A final steep ascent leads to the summit (N19.41652 W102.31957, 3840m), which has a cross, a boulder of similar elevation and a few scattered small trees. Views were limited due to cloud/haze. We had feared thunder but fortunately nothing materialised.

This was my 100th Ultra and we celebrated with a slab of Mexican fudge which Adam had bought on the drive down a few days earlier.

We were at the summit in 5 hours, spent half an hour on top then headed down. Once past the comms masts we descended the slope half-left, heading directly towards the power-line saddle, and quickly found the dirt access road for the masts, which we followed to approx N19.41671 W102.30522. At this point, the dirt road cuts back L but a disused section of road continues in the direction of the desired saddle. From here it's probably easiest to reach the ridge at about N19.41643 W102.30269 (as we did) rather than taking a direct route through the tussock grass to the power line.

Once on the ridge, we bypassed the final rocky tower on its LHS to reach the power line saddle. After a short break for food we headed straight downhill, following the power line. Here the tussock grass is eroded, making for fairly fast progress - much easier than the densely packed tussocks of our upward route. At one point we crossed a small ravine to stay under the power line.

At about N19.41818 W102.28696 the broad clearing following the power line runs out: here we kept R and descended fairly open woodland until reaching an old dirt road which we followed until it became blocked by fallen trees; we descended to another dirt road and followed it downhill to exit the forest, then cross the clearing and enter the next section of forest. We refind our outward GPS track at xxx and follow it across the small ravine, in failing light. This comes out onto the dirt road at about N19.41600 W102.28143 as mentioned earlier, and we turn L and follow our outward route (R at N19.41805 W102.27943, R at N19.41673 W102.27703; Duane had left stick arrows as markers) back to the trailhead, arriving at 7pm, just after dark.

We discover that the rented vehicle has a slow puncture (its third in 3 summits) so we head back onto the highway and find a gas station where we can put some air in it.

Next morning we part company for a few days: Duane and I head for Volcán de Tequila which Adam and Bob had already done, while they head for Cerro Zamorano, a two-state highpoint.

Tancitaro photo album

A trip summary/overview can be found at the end of my Orizaba report

For a comprehensive illustrated description of the whole trip, see Adam Helman's expedition report
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3395 ft / 1033 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3395 ft / 1033 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3067 ft / 934 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2903 ft / 884 m; Extra: 164 ft / 49m
    Loss on way in:164 ft / 49 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:from east
    Start Trailhead:above San Antonio  9695 ft / 2955 m
    Time:5 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3231 ft / 984 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2903 ft / 884 m; Extra: 328 ft / 99m
    Gain on way out:328 ft / 99 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:from east
    End Trailhead:above San Antonio  9695 ft / 2955 m
    Time:3 Hours 20 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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