Climb Iztaccihuatl and Orizaba
The Mexican Volcanos program is perfect for those who want to climb high altitude glaciated peaks, but just can’t take 2-3 weeks off to travel to South America or the Himlaya. Mexico is one of the only places in the world where we can summit peaks and gain skills in just one week. For the aspiring climber with no glacier experience, the Mexican volcanos offer moderate glaciated routes at altitudes which can be attained with only a few days of acclimitization. But this expedition is also for the experienced climber. Regardless of where you have climbed in the world, this weeklong whirlwind climbing trip will satisfy your need to get to the big mountains again, and will increase your technical skills and experience. It is an excellent refresher course, and a way to sneak some mountaineering into a busy life schedule!
We will attempt two peaks during this expedition. After a quick exploration of Mexico City and the surrounding highlands, we head to Iztaccihuatl. At 17,154 feet (5,229 meters), Ixta (as it is locally known) is Mexico’s third highest peak. It is the perfect mountain to acclimitize on, and is a beautiful route and summit. The view from the summit takes in all of the volcanoes of Mexico, including nearby Popo, which is currently erupting! And the climbing, while not highly technical, will provide an ideal opportunity to get used to traveling on rope teams and in crampons. This trip, like all Alpenglow expeditions, is educationally focused. We set aside time on Ixta to bring your mountain skills up to speed. Our goal is that you are an active part of the climbing and decision-making team.
We then spend a day of rest and recovery in the traditional highland town of Puebla. The day will pass quickly exploring the local’s market, buying souvenirs, and eating the excellent Mexican cuisine.
From Puebla we head to our second objective, Orizaba. Orizaba is Mexico’s tallest peak and the third highest in North America. Its summit sits at 18,410 feet (5,611 meters) and is heavily glaciated. We will be well-acclimitized and rested for our summit push, which is comparable to summit days on many of the World’s biggest peaks. The climb of over 4,000 vertical feet (1,020 meters) on crevassed glacier and steep slopes will test all of the training you put in as well as the technical skills we have practiced throughout the week. A summit of Orizaba is excellent preparation for expeditions to mountains like Denali, Aconcagua, or Huascaran, as well as an achievement in its own right.
Our Mexico Expeditions will be guided by one or more of Alpenglow Expeditions’ AMGA certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our guides have also traveled and climbed extensively in North and South America. Their knowledge of the mountains, combined with their passion for teaching others to become competent mountaineers, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember! In contrast to many guide services working in Mexico, we climb in small teams, with a maximum climber to guide ratio of 3:1. This helps ensure that you stay healthy and strong and are able to enjoy each component of your experience.
Leave your home for Mexico, arriving into Mexico City by mid-afternoon (Saturday). After a stop at our hotel, we tour the city’s historic district, taking in the colonial architecture and beginning our process of acclimatization (7,300 feet/2,225 meters).
Travel by 4WD Landcruisers to the town of Amecameca, in the Mexican highlands. This traditional town is famous for its market, and we take time to explore and have lunch before continuing our drive. Spend the night in Paso de Cortex, the last town before the road ends in Popo-Ixta National Park (11,750 feet/3,581 meters).
After breakfast, drive to La Joya (13,024 feet/3,970 meters) where we set camp. This is an important altitude to spend a night at before sleeping higher on the mountain. After setting camp we take an acclimatization hike through the incredible pine forests that surround the base of Ixta (17,154 feet/5,229 meters), our first mountaineering objective. We also spend time today going over the basics of roped glacier travel, and familiarizing ourselves with crampons and axes.
Today we move to a high camp at around 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). Our packs will be heavy and the air thin, so we will move slowly, taking lots of time to appreciate the incredible views as we climb out of the forests into the high alpine region of the mountain.
Wake up around 3 am for our summit push. After a quick breakfast and hot drink we begin our climb, up steep moraines to the edge of the glacier. After roping up and putting on crampons, we continue up the glacier, navigating occasional crevasses before it steepens into a final summit couloir. A final push puts us on top, where we have incredible views of all of the Mexican highlands. A long descent and quick drive will get us to much deserved showers, beds, and a celebration dinner in Amecameca.
After a relaxing morning and big breakfast, we leave our hotel for the village of Puebla. The drive is incredible and gives us a good sense of the people of the highlands and how they live. Puebla sits at 7,000 feet (2,134 meters), and is a great place to recover fully in preparation for Orizaba. It is also the place to buy souvenirs for everyone at home!
Drive from Puebla to the Piedra Grande hut, which sits at 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) on the flanks of Orizaba. We eat an early dinner, organize our summit packs, and get to bed.
Today is the day where all of your training at home and the climb of Ixta pays off. We wake soon after midnight and begin our climb to Orizaba’s summit (18,410 feet/5,611 meters). Moderate glacier climbing takes us around a rock band and over crevassed terrain before reaching the crater rim. From there we climb the ridge of the crater to the true summit. Our view will stretch from all of Mexico’s volcanoes on one side to the Gulf of Mexico on the other! We then descend back to the hut and drive to Puebla to celebrate our climb and spend the night.
Wake early in the morning to drive back to Mexico City. Depart Mexico City for your flight home. Flights should not leave before 2pm from Mexico City. (Sunday)