Up the Nose Without a Guide

Originally published in XelaWho March, 2009

The Mayan Nose, a peak that resembles the profile of a person reclining, looms over Lake Atitlan.  When you’re in San Pedro the Nose is a more attractive peak than the volcano because, whereas the volcano always lurks behind you, this nasal peak stares you in the face, challenging you to go up the Nose.

I went up the Nose with a couple from New York.  “Should we get a guide?” I asked them.  “Fuck no!” They replied.  “We’re from New York.  We don’t take directions from nobody.”

I will never let a New Yorker lead me hiking again.

I wanted to find the road that climbs the back of the mountain from the road between San Juan and San Marcos, but Jesse was impatient.  “Here’s a trail,” he said and bounded off.  Soon we were climbing steep barren slopes.  After one particularly steep pitch of loose dirt and rock we began to fear for our safety.  The bushes were too thick to for us to go up.  We couldn’t safely go back down.

I can’t believe that Guatemalans farm this land.  They’re insane.

Luckily, a farmer came along and guided us safely to the road to Santa Clara.  From there we made it to the top easily.

If you want to go up the Nose without a guide, it’s easiest to:

1. Ditch the New Yorkers.

2. Walk (20 min), or a take a pickup (5 min), to San Juan.

3. Continue past San Juan towards San Marcos.  Turn left onto the first, and only, intersecting paved road to Santa Clara.

4. Follow the road to Santa Clara.  Take your first left at the edge of the village and follow the road to the end.  Go right.  The path to the Nose will be about thirty meters down, on the left, marked by a sign.

5. Shout a big ‘ol yodelee-hee-hoo from the peak.


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