Pico De Orizaba
Mexicos Highest Peak (18,500ft)
I believe the the thought that you can conquer a mountain is bullshit.. If you are lucky enough to stand on a high peak its by the grace of nature that you do so. This whole trip from Mexico City to our mountain summits was amazing. To detach from electronics, social media, emails and be face to face with thought, physical exertion, pain and struggle. What I gain from these types of experiences is knowledge of self. I’m not completely sure why I like Endurance activities, all I can gather is: To push yourself on little sleep up a steep mountain in the early hours of morning. When you legs and lungs burn and your body wants to quit. This is the closest to death you can be alive and somewhere in the recognition of death I’ve gained a deep appreciation and love for life…
After a successful summit of Iztaccihuatl on Tuesday we made our way to Tlachichuca and to OMG’s (Orizaba Mountain Guides) climbers hostel to load gear in to 4×4’s and make our way to Orizaba’s base camp (14,000ft).
click to enlarge
After about an hour and a half we reached the climbers hut
There are out houses there and a fairly large hut with big three level bunks. We had 6 people total with us and we all fit on one bunk.
To be completely honest, to me the hut sucked. We were “lucky” and got the top level bunk and while its quieter and there is less movement up there. You also get to breath everyones camp stove fumes. I slept like a baby in my 4 season Mountain Hardwear Tent on Iztaccihuatl and would have rather slept in it on Orizaba.
2am we were out of the hut and on our way. Making our way up through a maze of rock, scree and snow to the base of the Jamapa Glacier. There are very few crevasses (I’m told) on Pico De Orizaba. At the base of the Glacier where we were getting our crampons on and roping up, my climbing partner threw his Ice Axe Down to lodge it into the snow. In stead of making a typical snow striking sound it made a loud reverberating hallow thud.. What I deducted from this was that we were on top of a large void under the Ice. Luckily it held up and we got our gear on and out of there.
About 1,000 vertical feet from the summit, watching the sunrise
The first portion of the glacier we were able to move quickly up but then it gets steeper and steeper. It was pretty Icy snow conditions and with the pitch of the slope we were traveling up my one hiking pole was useless. With how steep this mountain is I found myself between climbing steps, too steep to just walk up and not steep enough to be on your toe points the whole time the French step worked best for me on the steepest pitch towards the top.
This is what I had on:
- Boots: La Sportiva Nepal GTX / (real) wool socks
- Crampons: Black Diamond (10 point)
- Ice axe: Grivel G1
- Upper body: Long sleeve base layer with hood/Patagonia nano puff/ Arc’teryx vest (in my pack I had a hard shell and a parka)
- Lowwer body: Marmot Base layer / Marmot full zip hard shell pants
- Gloves: Da Kine (in my pack I had light weight gloves and “oh shit” mittens)
- Head: Black diamond vector / Black Diamond head lamp / Patagonia beanie
- Harness: Black diamond momentum
- Pack: 50L Osprey
Summit ridge Pico De Orizaba
What I had in my pack:
- 2 liters of water one liter had skratch labs electrolyte replacement in it
- 2 cliff bars
- 2 Justins hazle nut almond butter
- 2 sport beans
- 2 cliff shots
- home made beef jerky
- dried mango
I actually didn’t eat much during our climb it was nice to refuel at the top and I always like to have extra just in case..
Click to enlarge
Pico De Orizaba Summit 18,500ft
Other than Icy snow conditions we had an awesome weather day.
Making our way down we could see what we missed heading up in the early morning darkness.
We were up and back to the hut in about 9hrs. Our hike on Iztaccihuatl was 11 miles round trip with 4,700ft of climbing. Pico De Orizaba was 6.5 miles round trip with 4,700ft of climbing. Click here to a link yo my climbing partners Strava for GPS and more information about the climb.
Pico De Orizaba is a beautiful mountain I am thankful for the opportunity I had to head down to Mexico and climb it. Upon returning home our guide Amilio informed us that the Icy conditions we experienced got worse and the week after we left there were a few accidents that required rescues and a few deaths on the mountain (click for news article). Its a sobering reminder of the cost of the enjoyment we seek..
Here is a short video of our climb
Map to Pico De Orizaba
Peru Andes Guides (ask or peter) click here for website
Orizaba Mountain Guides (ask for Amilio) click here for website
As always if you have any questions email me!