Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba Trip Report (#892)

We arrived in Mexico City from Atlanta on the late evening of March 12th. Paul's Hertz Gold service meant little there, and our rental car ... what rental car? there was none. We ended up settling for the brother-in-law's wreck. After a tiring drive to Puebla, we "enjoyed" a 2 am meal via room service. Our next-day's challenge was to drive to the trail head for La Malinche, essentially by dead-reckoning! "Head for that mountain," we would say repeatedly, alternating between declarative and iterrogative sentence types. We had trouble obtaining (accurate) directions.

After bottoming out the low-riding car on dozens of (unmarked) topes and after countless wrong turns on increasingly four-wheel-drive roads, we latched onto the SUV wheels of some lost Mexican climbers. They were equipped with maps, but still couldn't find the trail head. Eventually, we all got on track, but driving in Mexico is not an easy proposition (warning). We spent two days acclimatizing on La Malinche. The difficulty is that we both live at sea level. Where Ray lives in Savannah, the highest elevation is 40 feet, so there are no hills to train on. La Malinche was a fun mountain, and we rested on its summit for an hour.

We next traveled to Tlachichuca, again with no maps (although one drunk fellow tried to sell us maps repeatedly at the Casa Blanca restaurant). The Hotel Gerar provided adequate and inexpensive accommodations. Our guide Roberto Flores, who we highly recommend, met us, and we drove up to the Las Piedras Hut. We rested for one day, and the next day went up to 15,700 feet. Sure we had small headaches, but the "Paul and Ray"-team was happy to reunite for some climbing after our hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail this summer.

The next morning we left at 2:15 am for a summit attempt. Another group had left at 10 pm, and an individual had left around 1 am. We had slept little during the nights on the mountain. We made good time through the labyrinth with Roberto leading the way. Prior to reaching the glacier, we had passed the other two parties. We cramponed up, and then headed straight up the glacier in good conditions. We reached the summit on March 18, 2004, at 8:15 am. The good weather allowed us to hang out there for a while and snap some pictures---see www.cs.armstrong.edu/greenlaw under Galleries for some pictures.

The trip concluded with a couple nice meals in Mexico City, a visit to Teotihuacan, and some scuba diving in Cancun. Mexico is a beautiful country, and our trip brought back many memories for us---Paul had worked in Mexico City for eight months, and Ray had taken many forays into the Baja area. Next up for us is Vinson Massif. Thanks to Roberto for an enjoyable trip.

Ray "Wall" Greenlaw, Savannah Georgia Paul "Superman" Goransson, Eliot, Maine

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