How I (sort of) Cheated My Way to the Indian Nose Summit

Preface:  During my second week of school, I caught a cold.  It came on fast and strong, but only lasted two days.

The following Saturday, I decided it was time to attempt the climb to Indian Nose.

View of Indian Nose from starting point in San Juan-Rich and Delfino in Foreground

There were four students from the school.  The school’s gardener, Delfino, agreed to be our guide.  We left at 7:00 a.m.


The path climbed steeply from the get-go.  After about 40 minutes of hiking through coffee fields we arrived at the first summit where a cross and Virgin Mary stand to protect the town.  This is fairly typical in this part of the world.

Rest Stop

I was already breathing hard, both from the climb and a bit of cold residue.  But I decided to go for it.  We continued to climb steeply for another hour when we reached a lookout halfway to the summit.

View of Volcan San Pedro, Guatemala, from Halfway Up Indian Nose Trail

By now I felt my diminished aerobic capacity as well as overcare in slowing down the group.  We continued on to about two-thirds of the way up.  At that point, a trail goes off to Santa Clara on the other side of the mountain and a much higher starting point.  I decided to return to San Juan and said goodbye to the group.  I had to make peace with my “hiker” self-image, ego, blah blah blah; but I did and hoped to return again.

Fast forward about a week.

Two days ago, I planned to go the Xela (Quetzaltenango) for a day trip.  Xela (the Maya name and pronounced “shay-la”) is the second largest city in Guatemala, and located well up in the highlands.  I packed for a day trip and stopped in town for breakfast, grabbing the last table.  Two women came in and I invited them to join me.  They are sisters, Yolanda and Carmen, both teachers from Switzerland.  We had a great time getting to know each other and spent almost 2 hours in the restaurant.  As a result, I missed the 8:00 and 9:00 chicken buses to Xela and caught the last 10:30 bus.

So I am riding the bus up the hills above Lago de Atitlan, bumping along, and thinking by the time I get to Xela, I’ll only have an hour or so to look around before I have to catch a bus back.  I decide to get off in Santa Clara and attempt a solo Indian Nose Summit from the back side.

Can you tell me where to find the trail to Indian Nose?

I followed directions and walked for about 10 minutes out of town.  I found the unmarked trail and began a much shorter, but still steep climb.  After 15 minutes, I was treated to a great view of San Pablo and the lake below.

Trail View of San Pablo and Lake Atitlan

Trail View: Volcan San Pedro in Foreground with Volcanoes Toliman and Atitlan in the Background

I was getting excited now!  I could feel that my goal was at last attainable.  I continued to climb and after 20 more minutes I reached the summit.

View from the Top


So I hung out for about 20 minutes in deep appreciation for myself, the incredible beauty, the people of Guatemala and the field environment in general.  There was no one else there and I just soaked in the heart of the moment.

And then up the trail from San Juan come those intrepid alpine trekkers, Carmen and Yolanda.

Yolanda Obtaining the Summit

Yolanda and Carmen at Indian Nose Summit

Needless to say we had a happy reunion.  Then we did a little rock climbing.

Yolanda, Philip and Carmen Rock Climbing on Indian Nose

Then more time was spend laughing, telling stories and of course taking fun photos.

Carmen Feels her Inner Maya

Yolanda Atop a Very Sketchy Observation Platform

Well, a couple more hours and then one last group photo before the decent.

The Summit

Later, over dinner in San Pedro, we made plans for a reunion in Nicaragua or Costa Rica.

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6 Responses to How I (sort of) Cheated My Way to the Indian Nose Summit

  1. Brian January 29, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Yeah Phillip! Congratulations on your summit success. Sounds and sure looks like you have some fun adventures ahead. I cant wait to read more about them. Good Luck my friend.

    • admin January 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

      Yeah Brian! Hope you are enjoying the spring-like weather I here you are having up there. Definitely more to come!

  2. Rosalyn January 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Philip, OMG! The view of Lake Attiltlan from the Summit is incredible. Thank you for posting this. This Lake is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Glad to see you are happy and having fun. Love, Rosalyn

    • admin January 30, 2011 at 5:41 am #

      Rosalyn, this place is magic! I was going to move on a few days ago, but I seem to still be here. However, will probably take soon for El Salvador andNIcaragua.

  3. Larry Viser January 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Phill, looks ike you are the man!!! and makin’ friends along the way! Looks totally awesome!!! 🙂

    • admin February 1, 2011 at 9:56 am #

      Thanks Larry. You’d love it here! LOL to the V clan!!!

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