Ascent of Volcán Maderas on 2017-01-10

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Alan Bernier
Date:Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Volcán Maderas
    Elevation:4573 ft / 1393 m

Ascent Trip Report

A straightforward day hike, tiresomely muddy higher up, with some doubt over summit location. Trail to NW summit with some easy scrambling on rock (and a lot of tree roots/branches). NW summit is mapped as 1394m but only a large 1350m contour on OpenStreetMap (in reality a well defined narrow ridge); my GPS 1362m on arrival (3m horizont accuracy), 1354m 2.5hrs later, hence 1394 seems unlikely. SE summit mapped as 1345m, small 1340m contour on OSM (and flattish summit as per R Mclellan photo). Jonathan de Ferranti says satellite data makes NW slightly higher, within error margin; SRTM and ALOS data both suggest about 1370 and 1355 for NW and SE respectively. The Mclellans thought SE summit higher as per their TR. We failed to bushwhack between them due to dense veg: may be more feasible to access via the crater lake.

Mon 9: After our morning ascent of Concepcion, we travel by bus to SE end of island for Madera. Choice is between bus towards Altagracia and changing at El Quino junction, or if it's continuing south, staying on it beyond Altagracia. Ours was conveniently headed for Merida passing thru Santa Cruz en route. Takes 90 mins, nice ride. A couple from England (New Forest) also on bus, in Nicaragua for 3 weeks. Plenty other tourists on Omotepe; seen hardly any elsewhere. 2 more join bus at Altagracia, English and Dane, 3 months Panama to Cuba. Overnight at Albergue El Porvenir, at start of Maderas trail, surrounded by petroglyphs. Beautiful place, comfy, great food. Convivial evening with group from Kentucky and Maryland, who play fiddles and guitar after dinner.

Tue 10: still windy, low cloud. Up at 6 optimistically for breakfast but nothing til 7. Hike at 0745, trail starts opposite Porvenir entrance, signed Laguna 6km. A few trail forks, we make a couple of minor errors but OpenStreetMap trails mostly correct. Rock outcrop just above the fields has a nice view of Volcan Concepcion, also cloud capped, beyond the sweep of two bays. Trail a little slippery but fairly dry until 1100m where it traverses L. From here, deep mud, slippery trees and low branches is the theme all the way to the summit: a well defined ridge with HP by trail and another a little further along 10ft lower by altimeter but 2m higher by GPS. 2h50 from trailhead.

We follow the trail along the crater rim a short way, reaching an open area with a guide and client resting; they've come up from Merida to west. Where the trail descends west we bushwhack SE to try to reach the other summit 550m away. Over an hour later we're stopped by dense scrub 200m from our target. We're back at the main summit 2h30 after leaving it having covered half a mile!

We head back down the muddy trail then turn R for the crater lake, a quite steep descent with a little scrambling. Lake is a pleasant spot, only just below cloud level today. We follow the west shore to within 250m (150m vertical) of the SE summit but don't have the time to try the bushwhack. There's also a trail from a seat by lake heading in roughly the right direction - tempting but we don't really have time.

We head down, negotiating the awkward slippery trail, thankfully for the last time. Nice view of Volcan Concepcion with a cloud cap. View of monkeys on the lower trail. Back at Porvenir at 1615, 8h30 with our side trips almost doubling the duration.

During dinner at Porvenir the power comes back on: it's been off since yesterday, here and apparently in much of Nicaragua. Some ferry activity today we're told. Tomorrow our task is to get back to Costa Rica.

Wed 11: after breakfast, walk down to Balgue junction, for 0830 bus, but a waiting minibus takes us direct to Moyogalpa, $5 each for convenience and maybe 1hr saved. Clouds low on volcanoes again, wind has lessened, ferries running, we take the 10 a.m. back to mainland, San Jorge, taxi offers us $30 to Penas Blanca border crossing, reduces to $18 which we're unable to resist. Half hour thru immigration and customs ($2 exit fee; as expected CR needs to see proof of onward travel: flight itinerary is ok), short wait for bus to Liberia. Here our luck with public transport runs out: 3hrs wait for next available bus from Liberia to Alajuela: arrive after 10pm; Hotel Cortez Azul overnight. NB possible to get bus direct from border to SJO/Alajuela...
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4727 ft / 1439 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4727 ft / 1440 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.5 mi / 18.5 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 1 (to NW summit)
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4235 ft / 1290 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Start Trailhead:Albergue El Porvenir  338 ft / 103 m
    Time:2 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4727 ft / 1440 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4235 ft / 1290 m; Extra: 492 ft / 149m
    Gain on way out:492 ft / 149 m
    Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    End Trailhead:Albergue El Porvenir  338 ft / 103 m
    Time:5 Hours 40 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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