Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba Trip Report (#1143)

After reading this summit log for so many months to, it seems unreal to be posting something to it. Our group of four (myself, Tony Crescenzo, Carolyn McHale and Jen Rinehart) spent about 4 days climbing Orizaba (Monday, 11/27 - Thursday, 11/30). We called ourselves "Escalamos como Perro de Tres Piernas" or in English: "The expedition of the three-legged dog" because, for some reason, we saw them all over the place in Tlachichuca and Heldago. It seemed to fit.

We had a hell of a good time as well as an unforgettable adventure. Here's a few experiences I thought I'd pass along:

- Like everyone says in this log, acclimatize SLOWLY or you will truly be circling the drain at some point higher up in the climb. We spent 2 nights in Tlachichuca (8,500). We camped in the woods at 12,000 for one night, spent 2 nights in the Piedre Grande Hut at 14,000 (and carried gear to high camp at 15,800)and then spent our summit night at high camp. Even with this, we still had a little AMS.

- I had been here last year and knew there were rats in the Piedre Grande hut. I didn't like it when they ran across me at night looking for food so, this time, I bought a rat trap and some peanut butter. Pay dirt the first night! I caught a twelve inch rat (nose to tail). I left the trap behind in the hut in case somebody else wants to go big game hunting.

- NEVER buy Campmoor dehydrated spaghetti...the 4 of us formed a pact never to discuss this meal again until we could no longer relive the taste.

- There was an incompetent French-Canadian twenty-something that rubbed us like human sand paper while we were staying in the hut. Later he begged us for water up at high camp because he had run out of his own...he was a mountain moron and we just wanted to beat this guy with frozen poop! As with the Campmoor dehydrated spaghetti, the 4 of made a pact never to discuss him until we could no longer remember how nauseating he was...

- If you are going to go with a guide, pick the best. We used Reyes' guide Roberto Flores Rodriguez, also known as "Oso" (the bear)...he certainly deserved that title! He had guided 103 Orizaba summits including ours and you could see that this climb was a casual stroll in the park for him! He's an incredible climber and we trusted him completely. I'd climb anywhere with Roberto on the rope.

- Be sure and bring insulated water bottle holders for summit day, my outside water bottles froze (Because I didn't have insulated holders) and I had to keep clearing the line on my platapus unit. It was a problem and I got dehydrated accordingly until I got lower down to lower-angle territory and could deal with it.

- This is a big mountain and requires perserverance and complete focus to climb safely. On our first day at 14,000 feet, we were just stowing gear in the hut when a climber burst in and began talking excitedly in spanish with Roberto (our guide) and another person in the hut. I don't know much Spanish but I did understand "muerte" and "no pulso" from his conversation...this climber's client, a 23 year-old Japanese, had fallen on the lower glacier and catapulted past his guide over a frozen waterful and landed in a crevase. It killed him. Apparently his guide tried for an hour to revive him but got no pulse.

Roberto, used a cell phone to call down to Senor Reyes down in Tlachichuca. Reyes drove up to the hut that night along with many other climbers to to form a recovery operation. They set out to get the body the next day and it took the team all day to bring the dead climber down to the hut. I don't know all the facts on just how this happened and I won't lay blame for it here. I know that, afterwards, his tragic death was seldom far from our minds as we moved up the mountain and we all felt so badly for this guy who, like us, probably never believed that he would become a casualty of this mountain.

- We stayed on an extra two days in Tlachichuca after we summited and we were so glad we did. Senor Reyes arranged for us to take a tour of the pyramids of Cantona and they were awesome. Then we went back for dinner and pounded copious beers back in town. I far prefered unwinding at the Reyes hacienda to the bad air, crime and ripoff scams of Mexico City. I'm glad the trip ended this way.

Pico de Orizaba Trip Report Index