The volcanoes of Colombia’s Los Nevados: the videos

I’ve finally finished editing all the video footage from my trips going back more than two years, and it’s time for my latest – and I’m sorry to say, very last – set of videos. Those of you who like listening to the wind drowning out the sound of my voice are in for one final treat.

Last Christmas and New Year, I journeyed to Colombia for a short trek in Los Nevados National Park. It was a more innocent time, when we all thought nothing of hopping on a plane crowded with a few hundred other passengers to transfer our germs to people on the other side of the planet. Who would have thought that little more than a month later, we would all be looking upon such activities with horror…

Los Nevados National Park lies in Colombia’s Cordillera Central mountain range, around 150km south of the city of Medellin. It rises to just over 5,000m and is surrounded by páramo, the high-altitude grassland characterised by damp, windy conditions, tall paja grass and unusual plant species which once thwarted the Spanish conquistadors.

Although this was essentially a trek through the páramo, I travelled with Jagged Globe, which meant we sneaked a couple of peaks in as well, including the second highest peak of the range, Nevado del Tolima. I’ve looked down into a few volcanic craters in my time, but this was the first time I stood so close that I could see it bubbling. You will be pleased to know that you can share the experience in the last video of this collection, but without the smell of rotten eggs.

The full playlist involves 5 videos and 28 minutes of footage. You can watch the whole thing in one go here. You can also see all my still photos from the trip here, and read the full trip report here.

And if you’re still yearning for the Andes after watching these (and why wouldn’t you be?), don’t forget to check out my book Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo, about a laughter-packed cycling and climbing adventure just across the border in Ecuador. It has also just been released as an audiobook.

1 Nevado del Ruiz

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Most of the mountains in Los Nevados are volcanic. The highest, Nevado del Ruiz (5,325m) is still active and was subject to a devastating eruption in 1985 that killed over 20,000 people. This video follows an acclimatisation hike south of Ruiz to the pleasant lake of Laguna Otun.

2 Nevado Santa Isabel

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Nevado Santa Isabel (4,950m) is one of the highest peaks in Los Nevados, crowned by a glacier that is rapidly shrinking.

We had been led to believe that its main summit was an easy scramble, but it was a technical rock climb, capped by a broken mass of rock about 20 to 30m high. Half of our team, including myself, decided not to climb it after waiting over two hours for the first four team members to be belayed up one by one, an experience I covered in more detail here.

3 Trekking in Los Nevados National Park

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This video follows a trek on the western side of the range from Cabana Potosi to Finca Berlin, past the picturesque lakeside campsite at Laguna Otun.

At higher altitudes the landscape was grassland filled with thickets of frailejones, a plant that from a distance looks like an army on a hillside. A short descent to lower altitudes took us through a small forest of polylepis, a tree with multiple layers of peeling bark. There were also signs of volcanic activity.

4 The Central Summit of Paramillo del Quindio

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On the southern side of the range is Paramillo del Quindio, the ancient remains of a huge volcano with a crater several kilometres across. The mountain has several summits on what is left of the crater rim. The higher north and south summits are rocky affairs, but in between is the gentler central summit, the highest point on a steep ridge of scree.

This video follows a trek on the southern side of the range from Finca Berlin to Finca Primavera with an ascent of the central summit of Paramillo del Quindio on the way.

5 Ascent of Nevado del Tolima

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Nevado del Tolima (5,215m) is the second highest peak in Colombia’s Los Nevados National Park. It is an active, glaciated volcano with a bubbling crater surrounded by impressive ice seracs.

This video follows an ascent of Nevado del Tolima, starting from the basic hostel of Finca Primavera, as well as the trek out of the national park through jungle the following day.

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2 thoughts on “The volcanoes of Colombia’s Los Nevados: the videos

  • August 20, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    I enjoyed the trek. All five.

  • August 24, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    I finally get to see the crater. On my ascent of Tolima from El Silencio in September 1988, my mate Geoff and I never saw a thing – but what a slog. Loved it.

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