Los Volcanes de México
About the journey
I wanted to scale another high peaks this year and my plans spotted on Mexico, because there are nice and high volcanoes, mountains are free to climb and dry season begins soon. I planned the trip, grabbed a flight ticket for a good price and in the end of November i was on the way. On my to climb list were La Malinche (4462m), Pico de Orizaba (5650m) and Iztaccihuatl (5286m). Sightseeing or beaches were allowed only if time permits.

Countries visited: Mexico
Travelperiod: 11 - 12/2013
Photoblog
New York during flight to Mexico City
New York during flight to Mexico City
my first destination in Mexico - Puebla
my first destination in Mexico - Puebla

After surviving horrible service delivered by British Airways (never more with BA, really) we landed with 3 hours delay in Mexico City. Past immigration and customs check, i changed money into mexican pesos and straight continued by bus from the airport by bus to Puebla, where i finally anchored after being for 27 hours on the way.

campsite (3100m) below Volcán La Malinche
campsite (3100m) below Volcán La Malinche
at 3900m one gets above treeline and La Malinche summit gets visible
at 3900m one gets above treeline and La Malinche summit gets visible

Next day i moved from Puebla few tens of kilometres towards north to Volcán La Malinche (4462m). Transportation was not that straightforward as thought it will be, but at 3PM i reached my objective of the day - campsite at 3100m at the foot of the mountain, where i camped overnight.

climbing up, view from 4300m towards north
climbing up, view from 4300m towards north
La Malinche summit - 4462m
La Malinche summit - 4462m

It was early morning when i started the climb towards summit. Weather was more than fair and in bit less than 4 hours i'm was standing at the summit. In just 1 and half hour i descended back to camp and continued to Puebla, where i arrived later in the afternoon.

in little town Tlachichuca, Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltepetl) rising in the back
in little town Tlachichuca, Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltepetl) rising in the back
horses march in Tlachichuca
horses march in Tlachichuca

Following day i took a bus to small town Tlachichuca, laying approximately 100 kilometres to the east, right below highest peak in Mexico - Pico de Orizaba 5650m. I checked-in to Cancholas Guestouse, local outfitter, which serves as base for climbers and also arranges 4WD rides to Base Camp. I arrived past noon and had to wait till next day for other climbers, with who i can share the ride.

loading a 4WD jeep and departing to Base Camp
loading a 4WD jeep and departing to Base Camp
mountain gets closer
mountain gets closer

Prior noon showed up two Mexican climbers, but two other people from USA arrived late and it was already close to 3PM, when we finally began our drive in a robust 4WD jeep towards Piedra Grande hut, which serves as Pico de Orizaba Base Camp. Not good, since there won't much acclimatization done in the afternoon. In and half hour we reached BC and settled inside of the hut. Prior sunset i yet walk-up to 4400m and then going to sleep. Night will be short, i set a wake up call for 2:30 AM.

evening walk-up above Base Camp to 4400m
evening walk-up above Base Camp to 4400m
finally sunrise after 3 and half hours walk in the dark
finally sunrise after 3 and half hours walk in the dark

Night was almost sleepless. After a small breakfast i depart from hut at 3:15AM. Mexicans started at 1AM, US guys shortly after 2AM. Then follows a 3 and half hours long march in dark over steep scree slopes, rock and snow steep section Laberinto up to glacier at 5050m, where on eastern horizon i can observe birth of a new day. Magic.

still a long walk over glacier Glaciar de Jamapa to the top
still a long walk over glacier Glaciar de Jamapa to the top
Orizaba throws it's huge shadow to the west, in far back Popocatepetl (5452m), Iztaccihuatl (5286m) and La Malinche (4462m)
Orizaba throws it's huge shadow to the west, in far back Popocatepetl (5452m), Iztaccihuatl (5286m) and La Malinche (4462m)

It's windy and cold (-10C) on the glacier, but i continue upwards. At 5250m i catch up with the US guys. They are both tired, but commit not to give up. Climb further up is slow, i have to rest a lot due to lack of oxygen (at 5500m it's only 50% of what it's in lowland). Thru a steep western flank i get to crater rim at 5600m, where finally sun is shining. I make one last pause before the final push to the summit.

climbing up, here at 5350m
climbing up, here at 5350m
the very last rest at 5600m
the very last rest at 5600m

And then there's nowhere to continue, nowhere to climb, summit is reached. Euphoria, great feeling to stand at 5650m. Mexicans reached summit few minutes earlier, so we congratulate each other and take photos.

mission accomplished, standing at the summit of Pico de Orizaba 5650m, highest point in Mexico and third highest in North America
mission accomplished, standing at the summit of Pico de Orizaba 5650m, highest point in Mexico and third highest in North America
with Mexicans on the summit
with Mexicans on the summit

US guys reach the summit half an hour later, so all five us made it. Great. All together we enjoy the stunning views around. Weather can't be better and visibility is great.

view towards west
view towards west
Orizaba crater, well over 400 meters in diameter
Orizaba crater, well over 400 meters in diameter

After well over one hour on the top i slowly start to descend down.

descending a looking back to the summit
descending a looking back to the summit
steep descent thru section called Laberinto
steep descent thru section called Laberinto

First it goes again over glacier and then thru steep Laberinto section. Last sretch prior hut is a steep rocky slope. Back in Base Camp we rest for a while, pack all our stuff and later in the afternoon jeep takes us down to Tlachichuca.

evening arrival to Amecameca, snowcapped Popocatepetl in the back
evening arrival to Amecameca, snowcapped Popocatepetl in the back
still life made in Mexico
still life made in Mexico

Next day was reserved to transportation from Tlachichuca to Mexico City and then to Amecameca, small town below Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl volcanoes. Two other climbers were driving to Mexico City and offered me a ride, which helped a lot. Then i continued by bus to Amecameca, which we reached only shortly prior dark, mainly thanks to heavy traffic.

church in Amecameca and Iztaccihuatl rising above
church in Amecameca and Iztaccihuatl rising above
Volcán Iztaccihuatl (5286m)
Volcán Iztaccihuatl (5286m)

My objective in Amecameca was to scale Volcán Iztaccihuatl, third highest peak in Mexico. From town up to trailhead - parking place La Joya (3910m) and had to hire a taxi for 270 MXN. From there i walked with heavy load on my back up to small shelter Refugio 19 (4717m), where i spend the night.

walking up to Refugio 19, here between second (4380m) and third (4525m) saddle
walking up to Refugio 19, here between second (4380m) and third (4525m) saddle
below already visible silver shelter of Refugio 19, above rises foresummit Las Rodillas (5080m)
below already visible silver shelter of Refugio 19, above rises foresummit Las Rodillas (5080m)

Later in the afternoon comes young guy from France, but as he is barely acclimatized, the overnight at such altitude is a torture for him and he has to descend early in the morning.

enjoying nice evening high in the mountains
enjoying nice evening high in the mountains
night view towards Mexico City (just a small part of it is visible)
night view towards Mexico City (just a small part of it is visible)

I continue further up, but the terrain is steep scree and sand and i really don't enjoy it. My motivation to continue in such terrain is less than low. I got to 4860m, enjoyed views around and started the descent.

next day climbed up to 4860m and turned back down (boring terrain), Popo in the back
next day climbed up to 4860m and turned back down (boring terrain), Popo in the back
and once more Popocatepetl (5452m) and flowers
and once more Popocatepetl (5452m) and flowers

When i walked from La Joya to Paso Cortes a nice mexican lady with 4WD offered me a ride to Cholula, which lays on the eastern side of the mountain, close to Puebla. I really loved the small historical town and it's tranquil atmosphere, so i stayed for a night and moved to Mexico City only next day.

historical Cholula
historical Cholula
finally in Mexico City, Metropolitan Cathedral on Zócalo
finally in Mexico City, Metropolitan Cathedral on Zócalo

I took some super slow bus from Cholula to MC and arrived after dark. Reached downtown by foot and set myself in a nice hostel near main square - Zócalo.

ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán
ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán
three, two, one, go!
three, two, one, go!

Next couple of days i stayed in Mexico City and did some sightseeing around as trip to Pyramids at Teotihuacan or Cuernavaca.

Mexico City, 24 million people, welcome (view from Torre Latinoamericana)
Mexico City, 24 million people, welcome (view from Torre Latinoamericana)

On way back home i yet had a day stopover in London and could thus witness how real Xmas shopping frenzy looks. Last day follows short jump to Prague and whole trip is over. ¡Hasta luego México!

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