Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba Trip Report (#1061)

My book on the mountain, titled Pico de Orizaba or Citlaltepetl: Geology, Archaeology, History,

and Mountaineering Routes has over 100 chapters and over 1,000 references to all aspects of the

local pyramids, haciendas, early visitors, ice, sulfur, gold, and salt mines, art history, lava flows,

climatic zones, sand dunes, salt lakes, volcanic eruptions, crater lakes, sedimentary rocks,

caves, present and past glaciers, stone polygons, rock glaciers, climbing routes, accidents,

skiing history, and chronology. The book is currently out of print, but some copies are available

through interlibrary loan. The book is the result of some twenty years of sustained research and

a dozen trips to Mexico. Much of the information about the mountain found in the popular press is

incorrect. For example, the first ascent was in 1838 by Galeotti, not in 1848 by Raynolds (indeed,

the name "Raynolds" is often incorrectly spelled "Reynolds." I may print some more copies this

(year 2000) summer. Pico de Orizaba is probably the most interesting mountain in North America.

It is, by one measure (absloute geodetic distance from the center of the earth) the highest mountain

in North America. In adddition to the climb, there are many interesting sites in the region. Just to

the north of the mountain, for example, I discovered an alpine zone carved by ancient cirque and

valley glaciers. The pristine wilderness of pines, tundra, U-shaped valleys, alpine lakes (tarns).

and matterhorn peaks covers the same amount of area as the northern half of the Tetons in

Wyoming, and the peaks are about the same elevation. Only two three shepherds live part of the

year in the entire wilderness. I doscovered the ruins of a Toltec temple on the summit of one peak

and an obsidian point on the summit of another.

Pico de Orizaba Trip Report Index