Ascent of Volcán de Santa Ana on 2017-01-02

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Alan Bernier
Date:Monday, January 2, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Volcán de Santa Ana
    Location:El Salvador
    Elevation:7808 ft / 2379 m

Ascent Trip Report

Highpoint technically out of bounds but using the standard 11 a.m. guided walk (6USD each) and a little subterfuge, we managed to visit the summit without incident. Being part of a pretty large group probably helped. Local name Volcan Ilamatepec. Summit at N13.85498° W89.62842° (GPS)

Local tour company Nahuat are able to set up legit access to the highpoint, about $100 per person including transport from San Salvador, when I asked. Some caveats e.g. if not too windy.

There are 3 main summit contenders plus the much lower S summit near where the Santa Ana trail stops at the south rim which is obviously lower. The north summit is confirmed higher by hand level sightings, which are consistent with the 1:50k map, which shows the N summit with a tiny 3380m contour, the WNW summit with a 3365m spot, and the WSW with a 3362m spot; S summit has two long 3300m contours and about 20m prominence. Most visitors just stop at the rim, and the other summits are out of bounds, supposedly due to the risk of being robbed, although this seems rather unlikely: there's a well trodden trail to the north summit and we saw recent footprints.

1 Jan: Alan and I met at SAL, short walk out to nearest road and took microbus into San Salvador, slightly edgy 3km walk across the city to Bus station Occidentale, bus #201 to Santa Ana with the fastest bus driver in the country; short walk to the excellent Casa Verde hostel, proprietor Carlos just as good as the reports say.

2 Jan: 0730 bus to Volcan Santa Ana from centre of town: 5 mins walk from Casa Verde to Santa Ana central bus sta, bought tickets for Cerro Verde at desk, went to board bus but were shooed away by an armed guard! We were all boarded together in due course, left at 0745, slow journey with plenty stops, going round S side of the beautiful Lago Coatepeque, arrived about 0930 - bus stop at N13.83520° W89.62361°.

Hiked dirt road R a short way to Casa Cristal campsite entrance then small grassy trail R leading to ranger station. Long wait while others arrived including party of 70 youngsters from a mission school in Santa Ana. Then waited for police escort.

1100 hike eventually left about 12, zigzag trail thru forest then paint marked thru rocky terrain. We're among the first 10 or so to the crater rim. Impressive view down to aquamarine gassy lake. View across to North summit c80m higher than the rim where we're standing, supposedly inaccessible due to danger of banditos. Policeman is installed across the obvious continuation trail anticlockwise, so we follow a tourist clockwise (L) along the rim a little way then just keep going; no one follows us. Initially keep to inner rim to get round top of a deep gully, then back left then straight up towards the outer rim, following open lines thru brushy vegetation. Plan is to first visit the WSW summit (2362m) but it seems to involve a serious bush whack, and all sources make it lower than the N summit, so instead we head straight for that. We pick up an improving trail just inside the outer rim which leads easily to the summit, which has a small concrete trig pillar (the trig mark is a brass rod) - N13.85498° W89.62842° - GPS. Using my 2x hand level it's clear the WSW and WNW summits are lower, probably by 5-10m, consistent with 50k topo map. Ground on rim 30m W of trig about a foot lower.

Main group on S rim have mostly dispersed so we complete our crater circuit - following a clear trail with very recent footprints - and head back down the main trail, noting a few folk are still up on the rim. We catch the main party about halfway down. A mild ticking off by the policeman then we follow the group down, arriving back 2 minutes before the 3pm bus is due: 3hr round trip. No 3pm bus though - we get the 4pm back to Santa Ana and are back at the Casa Verde at about 5.30pm. Ready for some more pupusas.

3 Jan: #201 bus back to San Salvador. Our next challenge is Volcan San Vicente....
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1936 ft / 589 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1936 ft / 589 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.8 mi / 11 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1870 ft / 569 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1804 ft / 549 m; Extra: 66 ft / 20m
    Loss on way in:66 ft / 20 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.5 km
    Start Trailhead:6004 ft / 1830 m
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1870 ft / 569 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1804 ft / 549 m; Extra: 66 ft / 20m
    Gain on way out:66 ft / 20 m
    Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
    End Trailhead:6004 ft / 1830 m
    Time:45 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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