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


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Early December 2008, I traveled to the beautiful city of Guanajuato 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 of this trip with Guillermo Vidales of High Guiding Mexico (http://www.hgmexico.com/). 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. From the summit the view over the Mexican plateau at the base of the volcano was 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 on another trip, in February 2015, from the plane just before landing in Mexico City showing a volcano (most likely Popocatepetl) covered by a layer of clouds.



This is another photo taken in November 2018, also before landing in Mexico City. The closest two volcanoes are Ixtaccihuatl (5230m) and Popocatepetl (5426m), respectively on the left and on the right of the photo. Pico de Orizaba is the highest peak visible in the far background with a white (glaciated) summit. The volcano visible in the middle background behind Ixtaccihuatl is La Malinche (also called Matlalcueye), which reaches 4461m.


Other photos taken in December 2019 while taking off from Mexico City. They all have Pico de Orizaba in their far background.




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



View of Pico de Orizaba from the road above the town of Tlachichca, on our way to the Piedra Grande hut. The climbing route is at the limit between shade and sun on the Jamapa glacier.



In the Piedra Grande hut.



Jamapa glacier. (I took this photo during the descent.)



Other climbers on the rim of the crater near the summit.



Israel at the summit.



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



Israel and me on our return to the Piedra Grande hut.




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