Not Climbing Ometepe Island’s Volcanoes

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Not Climbing Ometepe Island’s Volcanoes
Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Not Climbing Ometepe Island’s Volcanoes – Ometepe Island is comprised of two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua and joined in the middle by a thin, flat isthmus forming an hour-glass shape. The northern half of the island is dominated by Volcan Concepcion (1,610m / 5,280ft), a perfect cone-shaped active volcano, while the dormant Maderas (1,394m / 4,573 ft) and home of a cloud forest covers the southern end.

I had visited Ometepe Island four years ago and I had returned from that trip disappointed I hadn’t climbed either volcano so in going back, I was determined to get up at least one of them…

Climbing Ometepe Island's Volcanoes Nicaragua

Volcan Concepicon

My guide had picked me up at my hotel at 3:15 a.m. and dawn was quickly approaching as I stood on a rocky outcrop 700 meters up Volcan Concepcion. I was already drenched through with sweat from the hour-long climb in the pre-dawn Nicaraguan humidity. Not only were the low-hanging clouds threatening to ruin any sort of scenic sunrise , but the climb had already been a shockingly difficult one; A hand-over-hand ascent on extremely slick rock through the dense, wet jungle. At least we had gotten to the overlook that I was promised for sunrise, even if it was going to be a dud.

“How much further to the top?” I asked my guide.

“4 hours”

“Is it like this the rest of the way?” I asked, alluding to the steep and rocky slopes we had already climbed.

He gave a casual smirk. “No, harder.”

I looked back out at the unpromising sky, the clouds maybe 50 meters above our heads and engulfing the perfect cone of Concepcion. “Do you think it will clear up at the top today? If we keep going, will we see anything?”

“No. We will not see. It will rain.”

Well that sucks… Did I want to keep hiking for a another 4 hours, possibly through rain, to get to the top and stare at some fog? No, no I did not. I’m not one that needs to climb a mountain just to be able to say that I climbed a mountain. So since these days I’m all about chasing the light across epic landscapes, I was back in a hammock by 8:30 that morning…

Climbing Ometepe Island's Volcanoes Nicaragua

Maderas under the clouds.

Not Climbing Ometepe Island’s Volcanoes, Again – That first climb was a bust – Not only did I not summit Concepcion, but I didn’t even get any great shots that I was determined to get… So two days later, I once again got picked up at 3:15 in the morning and an hour and a half later, I found myself 600 meters up the north side of Volcan Maderas. From that point, my guide said it was another four hours of climbing, got much harder, it would probably rain, and we’d be in the clouds. Once again, I began thinking about my hammock. (And also wondering if he was just telling me all that because he wanted to go back to bed too…)

Volcan Concepcion stayed behind the clouds and never came out to play so I didn’t get the shot I wanted, but at least the sky lit up for one of the more colorful sunrises I’ve ever seen.

I was back in my hammock by 7:30, but this time, perfectly content…

Climbing Ometepe Island's Volcanoes Nicaragua

Maderas viewpoint.

Climbing Ometepe Island's Volcanoes Nicaragua

Concepcion under the clouds.

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