Our yearly trip to Mexico’s Volcanoes was another huge success. We climbed two volcanoes in a 10 day period, visited the pyramids at Teotihuacan, and got to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Mexican people.
This trip was also used as a fundraiser for Big City Mountaineers. This organization takes underprivileged urban teens on seven and eight day backpacking trips during the summer months. They hold a series of climb each summer the call Summit For Someone which raises money for Big City Mountaineers. SMI has worked with Big City Mountaineers since they began doing fundraising climbs. We lead several trips each year for this worthy organization. Besides Mexico’s Volcanoes we also lead climbs to Mt. Whitney, North Palisade Peak, and Mt. Langley each year for BCM. In February 2011 we will also be leading one to Kilimanjaro!!
After meeting up in Mexico City we drove to the town of Amecameca which sits at the base of our first mountain Iztaccíhuatl (17,158’/5230m). A couple days of acclimatization hikes would put us in to position for a summit attempt on “Ixta”. Iztaccíhuatl is the name the Aztec’s gave this mountain, which translated means “white woman”. This mountain resembles a women laying on her back when viewed from a distance. “White” refers to snow that covers the upper reaches during certain parts of the year.
We ascended “The Knees Route” which climbs past Ixta’s knees onto her belly where the summit is located. On summit day we were treated to a clear crisp morning. Snow conditions were excellent. We got a predawn start and found ourselves high on the peak as the sun rose giving us a beautiful backdrop as we ascended the partly snowy and rocky terrain that leads to the summit.
After successfully reaching the summit we descended back the same way with views of neighboring volcano Popocatepetl in front of us and our next objective Orizaba visible to the east.
Orizaba is the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in all of North America at 18,410’/5611m. Only Mt. McKinley in Alaska (20,320’/6194m) and Mt. Logan in Canada (19,550’/5959m) are higher than Orizaba on this continent. It is a classic cone shaped volcano flanked by glaciers on all sides.
Our team drove south and east to the small town of Tlachichuca near the base of El Pico de Orizaba.
Here we geared up and took a 4-wheel adventure drive through the rural Mexican countryside then ascended through pine tree forests before emerging above timberline to the Pierdra Grande Hut at 14,000’/4267m. Our route was the Jamapa Glacier that ascends the cone’s north side to the crater rim. We traverses a short distance west to the highest point on the rim.
After our climbs the team drove back to Mexico City by way of the Teotihuacan pyramids. Teotihuacan is located 25 miles north of Mexico City and contains some of the largest pyramidal structures in the Pre-Columbian era. The pyramids are thought to have been completed between 200 BC and 100 AD and this city is believed to have had up to 200,000 inhabitants at its height in the 7th to 8th centuries. We took some time to climb the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, see some of the paintings that are still preserved here, tour some of the archeological sites, and walk the Avenue of the Dead.
We then returned to Mexico City for dinner. We happened to be there during Mexico’s bicentennial celebration. The center of the city was filled with an elaborate well done light show and music. Seeing the celebration was icing on the cake to a wonderful and very memorable trip!
The entire photo gallery can be found here: Mexico’s Volcanoes November 5-14, 2010