Sierra Nevada de Cocuy, 1993. Our group was composed of Betty Hernández, Rosario Rivas, Miguel Delgado, Ramón Jáuregui, Eduardo Márquez, José Medina, Oscar Sánchez and me. After our arrival at El Cocuy on December 20, 1993, by the 24th we were on the all-ice south side of Pico del Púlpito (5210 meters, 17,093 feet; also called Pico Pan de Azúcar). This was probably the second ascent of the route. On Christmas Day, Márquez, Medina and I climbed Pico Campanario (4886 meters, 16,031 feet; also called Campanilla Grande) by its exposed west ridge. This may have been the third ascent of this fine peak. On our return to El Cocuy, we encountered bad experiences since the town was militarily occupied because of clashes with the guerrillas. Although the military warned us not to return to the peaks, we did so. Loading our equipment on a horse, we reached the snowline on the west side of Alto Ritacuba, highest peak in the range (5464 meters, 17,926 feet). On January 1, 1994, with beautiful weather, we ascended to the summit by the normal route. Meanwhile Márquez and Medina climbed the peak by its steep south side. Mountaineers who intend to visit this range are advised to take every precaution since the Colombian military suspect anybody carrying a backpack as a guerrilla and, furthermore, they operate and comb the area at night.
José Betancourt, Mérida, Venezuela