Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba Trip Report (#1013)

  • Signed By: Grandin St.Germain
  • Date submitted: April 12, 2001
  • Date(s) climbed: 25 February/2001

Arrived in Mexico City on 18th feb and took a bus straight from the airport to Puebla at a cost of about 18USD, well worth it to avoid the confusion of the various bus terminals in Mexico City. Overnight in Puebla, 24USD for hotel and bus to Apizaco in the morning, 3USD. From Apizaco we took a taxi to IMSS hut on La Malinche for our acclimatization hike, 5hrs-30mins. If you have the time any acclimatization hike is recommended; La Malinche is a good choice as it is easily accessible and more or less along the way from Mexico City to Tlachichuca. Next day bus from Puebla to Tlachichuca, 8USD. We stayed in the Reyes' facilities at a cost of 121USD each; well worth it as the hospitality was great, the facilities were clean, the food was dilicious and we met many other climbers from around the globe. The 21th found us at the hut, 14000' aprox. Incredibly the main hut does sleep 60 people, though it may not look like it from outside. We had planned to climb Ixta after Orizaba but access from the south was prohibitted due to neighboring Popo, we consequently found ourselves with a surplus of time and elected to stay 3 nights at 14000'. Each day we would hike to 16000' and hide gear. We were thus able to acclimatize very thoroughly and experienced nothing more than a few headaches. I recommend staying in the hut, the nocturnal mouse activity and noise of other climbers is a minor inconvenience for the priviledge of wooden shelves for cooking and a shelter from the wind which can become excessively strong for a poorly secured tent. On the afternoon of the 24th we hiked to our high camp at 16000' aprox which was just below the glacier. For those of you wishing to start the summit push from the hut, many of whom we met elected to do so, I recommend at least one daytime hike to 16000' to familiarize yourselves with the route. The route from the hut to the glacier can be confusing during the day, a first attempt at night could end up wasting valuable time and energy. Woke at 02:30am on the 25th and were hiking by 04:00am. We reached the glacier 20mins later, but I ended up fighting with my tangled rope for another 30mins. The winds of the previous night had abated with only occasional catabatic gusts disturbing the calm. The sky was clear and many stars were visible but we were forced to rely heavily on our headlights due to the absense of the moon, I found route finding to be difficult initially due to this. When we had sufficint daylight to view the entire glacier we elected to proceed straight up taking us between the jamapa and espinoza routes. The ice conditions were excellent the entire way and we didn't at all notice the often mentioned exposure, if I were to do it again I would have no qualms about climbing solo. We found the summit ridge to be windswept and virtually free of snow. The only sketchy part of the climb was a 45ft long stretch of wind packed ice and dirt on the summit ridge where the crampons didn't want to sink in. Summited at 09:15am. By this time the wind was picking up and we stayed only 20mins. The ice conditions were also excellent on the descent. We took a well worn path down the glacier where again we found the exposure to be insignificant and no downclimbing was required. About half way down we encountered our only crevasse which was about a foot wide and quite visible. Clouds had begun to move in and by the time we arrived back at high camp, 11:30am, the visibility was poor. We broke camp and arrived back at the hut at 02:30pm. This is an excellent first climb at altitude, just remember to be patient and ensure you acclimatize sufficiently. I imagine some proficiency in spanish would help greatly, however our party of three was able to get by comfortably with only one phrasebook and virtually no prior knowledge of the language. Thanks to my two buddies who joined me, Korey Hazelwood Toronto, ON Lindsey Gluckie Edmonton, AB good work guys!

Grandin St.Germain

11 april/2001

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