Pico de Orizaba Trip Report (#986)
- Signed By: Tom Smith
- Date submitted: January 29, 2002
Great time. We spent a long time on the mountian, 6 days in all. After a night in Tlatchichuca, we found a ride to Hildago, about 2 hours hike from Piedra Grande and about 3200m (US$10). We spent a night in the forest before moving our gear to P.G. Aftter returning to the Hildago for another night we moved the last of our gear to P.G, a day that saw the summit enveloped in thick clouds. That afternoon, 2 of us moved our climbing gear, tent, some food and some fuel further up the mountain. An easy hike in the near-dry coliers that lead up from the hut to the toe of the glacier. We stowed or gear at about 4800m, a new highpoint for both. It was total fog and we hurried back down to P.G as it started to snow. That night several climbers ditched as the weather worsened.
The following morning we prepared to move to establish our high camp, but the weather was terrible. We did head out, but moving through the white-out conditions was difficult...we returned to P.G. amidst winds that must have been 100MPH. Everyone at the hut helped a group of climbers who's tents were failing near the huts. That night the wind howled and howled. It actually shook the stone hut and we were all certain that one of the window units, or perhaps the roof, would fail.
So much snow blew in through the cracks that we had to shovel the hut out in the morning. Early, I made my way over to the little hut. Part of the roof had been blown off and it was packed with snow.
By noon, the Mexican sun had won out over El Norte and the temps and our party began to climb. The once-dry colier was now packed with hard snow and we had to kick steps for every one of the 600 meters to our gear (difficult going with no axe or crampons...burried at our high camp...oops!). We dug out a tent sight, made a lousey meal and prepared for a terrible night's sleep at 4800m. Instead we slept like babies, awoke at 5AM as climbers from below made their way past, and suited up for the climb.
The sun and its warmth peeked across the toe of the glacier just as we arrived. The conditions were perfect; great purchase with our crampons, frim and reliable ice...no snow. We picked a line that we felt ought to be free of crevases (not a big risk on Orizaba) and headed up. 3 hours later we were at the crater, 30 more minutes to the top of Mexico.
After a half hour at the summit, we headed down and down and down. We actually down-climbed 2400m to Hildago that afternoon. And for a few bucks hitched a ride back to Tlatch for a few too many beers.
In Tlatch we stayed at Hotel Pancheata, 2 blocks S and 1 block E of the Pemex....highly recomended.
One last note...to and from Mexico City is a breeze. You can actually catch a bus to Puebla right at the airport (outside and near door 5) or for more options and cheaper fares, contine to the east edge of the airport, catch the Metro to the TAPO (Termanal Orientales), buses leave there, non stop, to Puebla every 10 minutes or so $6. In Puebla, Valle bus lines (way over on the east end of the terminal) leaves for Tlatchichuca every 45 minutes ($4). Each ride takes about 2 hours.