A Quick Ascent of Pico de Orizaba (December 3-5, 2008)


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Early December 2008, I traveled to the beautiful town of Guanajuato in Mexico to attend a conference. I decided to combine this trip with a climb of Pico de Orizaba (5636m), also called Citlaltepetl, the highest summit in Mexico and the third highest in North America. Like most of the high summits in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba is a volcano. It is located on the border between the Mexican states of Puebla and Veracruz, almost 300km south-east of Mexico City.


I arranged the logistics with Guillermo Vidales of High Guiding Mexico. Guillermo also provided me with a great guide, Israel. He picked me up at Mexico City airport in the morning of December 3. Together, with Israel, we drove to the Piedra Grande hut at 4260m. We spent December 4 resting in the hut. On December 5, Israel and I left the hut at 2am and we reached the summit at 9:30am. We returned to Mexico City on the same day around 11pm. That was a quick trip. The climb was a fun one. We had quasi-perfect weather and glacier conditions. The views of the surrounding plateau at the top were magnificent.


Mexico is a land of many volcanoes, some active, some very close to the capital Mexico City (most notably, Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl). This is a photo taken from the plane just before landing in Mexico City showing a volcano covered by a layer of clouds.


Climbing route shown in red. (Source: http://www.hgmexico.com/)


View of Pico de Orizaba from the road above the town of Tlachichuca. The climbing route is at the limit between shade and sun on the Jamapa glacier.



Inside the Piedra Grande hut.



Jamapa glacier (the photo was taken during the descent).



Climbers on the rim of the volcano near the top.



Israel at the top.



View from the summit with Popocatepetl (5426m) and Iztaccihuatl (5230m) visible in the far background.



Israel and me on our return to Pedra Grande hut.




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