Looming 18,491’ above central Mexico’s plains, the volcanic Orizaba is steeped in Aztec mythology. Our own climbing story with the mountain will depend on your objectives and timeline. One valuable way to begins is with an acclimatization climb on La Malinche, a 14, 636’ volcanic cone nearby. Rising up through pine forests, the summit ridge provides an airy and rewarding summit upon which to get used to the scarce oxygen of altitude.
From there we travel to the welcoming villa of the Reyes family in Tlachichuca, our springboard for Orizaba’s summit. If your scheduling allows, it is useful and interesting to put another day toward acclimatizing and enjoying the unique cultural and ecological perspectives that our positioning offers, by either exploring mid-altitude ancient ruins or hiking up the verdant eastern flanks of Orizaba. After enjoying another hearty dinner and slumber at the Reyes’ villa, we’ll depart the next day for the Piedra Grande Hut (14,380’). Cooking our dinner over camp cookstoves and bedding down in the three-story plywood bunks, we’ll get what sleep we can for the day ahead.
The following day, based on your acclimatization, previous mountaineering experience, weather patterns, and timelines, we can either hike to 15,000’ and practice important rope travel and snow self-arrest skills for another day before our summit push or make a bid for the summit that evening. Our summit push will begin under the glow of headlamps, navigating up the rocky gully leading to the Jamapa Glacier. Arriving at the glacier near sunrise, Orizaba’s bulk casts a surreal shadow over the horizon below us—truly a unique experience, and one to inspire you for the difficult push ahead. Higher and higher, the air becomes thinner and thinner—and the value of all of your training becomes clear!
As every mountaineer learns, the summit is only half-way, so after enjoying the exhiliration and vistas afforded by our summit success, we will begin our vigilant descent down to the Piedra Grande Hut and back to Tlachichuca. As time permits, we’ll round out our trip with some exploration of Puebla, Mexico’s fifth largest—and many say—most charming city. Puebla’s center city offers an extravagance of colonial charms to explore and a great zocalo (center area) to sit and watch the world go by while you massage sore mountaineering muscles.
The entire Mexican mountaineering experience is a challenging one—the physical demands of climbing combined with physiological altitude adaptations—but at the culmination of this experience you’ll savor the challenges and ample rewards that the Mexican volcano mountaineering experience has offered to you.
For a detailed look at the Mexico Volcano Mountaineering experience, click here.
For a look at our suggested clothing and gear for the Mexico Volcano Mountaineering experience, click here.
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