Nevada de Toluca
By: Harry Melts
Everybody and his girlfriend in the Sierra Club seem to climb only the three highest summits when in Mexico, so we decided during our recent vacation to climb the fourth and fifth highest ones. (Ed. note: 4th and 7th) Number four and the altitude scale is Nevada de Toluca, which is located inside a national park with the same name in Estado de Mexico. The mountain is a volcanic crater of roughly horseshoe shape and the crater contains two lakes, La Lune y El Sol.
The mountain is easily located because it dominates the surrounding landscape. Turn off Federal #15 before entering the city of Toluca from the north, a few hundred yards before a customs checking station. This turnoff is marked with a small sign. From here all future turnoffs on this now wide highway are marked with large national parks signs, and park headquarters are easily located. Past the headquarters one turns left into a narrower but still very good road which ascends to a ranger station about 13,500 feet altitude. It is compulsory to register here for the climb.
One can take the car here and take the trail or drive to the crater lakes and start the climb from there. After a short but steep ascent of about 1500 feet the peak is reached. The route is class 2 plus. We climbed the peak in April and a few snow patches were still evident. During the winter months this mountain will offer a beautiful snow climb, more so if the full length of the crater is traversed.
The park is well organized with the high altitude ranger station manned all year. Here also is located a substantial lighthouse built for climbers and skiers guide them in case of storm and nightfall. Do not forget to pick up a beautiful diploma signing out. A fee of 5 pesos is charged for it; the money is used for conservation purposes.
A visit to this beautiful park should be on everyone's list who visits Mexico City. We shall never forget the beauty of the raging tropical thunderstorm deep down in the valley as seen from the high altitude ranger station the night before our climb.
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