"In essence, the trip was great. A good combination of interesting peaks and cultural excursions within a short space of time. Garrett and Ben were great mountain guides, and Arnold added another dimension to the trip in the museums. As ever with an AAI trip, it was highly professional and client-centric and successful." Matthew H, 2010 Climber. Read More
Stuart Robertson and Michael Horst led 2 trips, with local guide Roberto Rodriguez. 100% of the climbers summited Orizaba, and nine out of ten successfully summited Ixta.
Alpine Ascents on Mexico:
As one of the few guide services that send professional guides from the United States, we offer our distinctive guiding services, where most others simply "hire a local service." In turn we have great summit success, exceptional evaluations and a very well organized program.
In the heart of Mexico, about 800 miles south of the United States border, rise the third and seventh highest mountains in North America. El Pico de Orizaba (also known as Chitlalcotepetl 18,850ft.) and Iztaccihuatl ("Izta" 17,343ft.) rise impressively above the central plateau. Each fall we attempt to summit these two volcanoes. These two ascents are by far the most attractive climbs in Mexico. Alpine Ascents' expedition provides a fantastically rich experience for the advanced beginner/intermediate climber. What continually makes these Mexican volcanoes so attractive is the relatively small cost it requires to participate in a successful international high altitude expedition.
Our expedition lasts ten days during which we will attempt to summit these ancient peaks. In fact the mountains date back 10 million years, while their present shape can be dated at 2.5 million years. They provide a good introduction to high altitude mountaineering. For those interested in high altitude challenges, climbing the volcanoes of Mexico provide an excellent opportunity to begin developing the experience and skill necessary to succeed in the world's highest mountains. Successful ascents will provide the climber with a strong sense of their individual ability to handle altitude. They are also a wonderful destination in their own right.
Iztaccihuatl is crowned with snow and ice which form small glaciers at the higher elevations. There are relatively few crevasses to be found. For our summit attempt we will depart by 2:00am, enabling us to be high on the mountain by sunrise. Additionally this will provide extra hours at the higher elevations to ensure a gradual safe ascent. Izta is known in Aztec mythology as the "sleeping lady." When we speak of Izta we use body terms to describe parts of the mountain: la caballera - the hair, la caveza - the head, la orega, the ear, etc. Izta poses a challenging climb with many false summits on the approach.
After completing Izta we will take one day to rest and regroup before we advance to our second objective, El Pico de Orizaba. Orizaba stands as North America's third highest summit. It is an eroded volcano which still retains most of its symmetrical shape. While the summit is heavily glaciated, these glaciers have very few crevasses, enabling the beginning climber to develop skills and encounter only relatively few danger spots. Because of its great height, it provides a wonderful first experience with high altitude along with fantastic panoramic views.
Those wishing to participate in this trip must posses basic mountaineering skills. These peaks, along with most other high altitude mountains in the world, lack suitable low altitude areas to practice skills. Please contact Alpine Ascents International's office for consultation.
The Legend of Popo and Izta This traditional story is well known throughout the Puebla regions and is quite famous throughout all of Mexico. As the legend goes, while Popo, the Smoking Warrior was at war the emperor's beautiful daughter, Izta, died of heartache. When he returned and learned of her death he built two mountains. On one he laid her body and on the other he stood holding a funeral torch. Some days it still appears as if Izta is stretched on her back while the steam of Popo watches over her. And given its recent activity, many are reluctant to forego the romantic imagery of this great "Smoking Mountain".
Climbing Skill Level
Climbers should have successfully completed our 6-Day Training course, 8-Day, 12-Day, 13-Day or have equivalent skills and experience. Those who had a strong performance on a 3-Day Baker or Rainier climb may also join. They must have basic knowledge of progression on snow and ice, self arrest, crevasse rescue and glacier travel. Snow and ice slopes to be dealt with are moderate (up to 45 degrees). The requirements are also based on our desire to have similarly skilled team members.
In the best interest of personal safety, success and team compatibility, adequate training and excellent physical condition are required. Prior experience carrying a heavy pack for multiple days serves as excellent preparation for this climb. Climbers must be able to carry an average of 50lbs or more and be physically and mentally prepared to deal with strenuous situations at high altitudes. Climbers need to be in excellent physical condition for both personal enjoyment and to be an integral team member. We encourage you to contact us so that we may assist you in developing a training program that meets your particular needs. Comprehensive training information can be found here.
Alpine Ascents is deeply committed to maintaining ecosystems at home and around the world. With each expedition, trek and course, we not only attempt to leave the environment as we found it, but strive to assist the local population in protecting the land and people indigenous to that region. Alpine Ascents reaches for the highest ethical business practices at home and abroad. Each staff member is dedicated to environmentally sound alpine ascents.
At Alpine Ascents environmental stewardship remains one of our core values and we take Leave No Trace ethics and practices very seriously. The mountains are our home and we are unwilling to sacrifice their preservation for human objectives. On every one of our courses and climbs we teach and follow the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principals and practices.
Over the years, with the assistance of our Sherpa teams, we have stepped up efforts to clean Mt. Everest. Our Wag Bag® program made a pioneering step in human waste management for the National Park System and Forest Service in the North Cascades. On Aconcagua, we pioneered a waste removal system on our climbs, utilizing the WAG Bag® system. And we continue our on-going maintenance and minimal impact plans wherever we guide. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally conscious mountaineers.
We regularly organize private climbs for individuals, corporate groups, families and friends. We encourage you to book these climbs early as we are often able to cater these climbs to group-specific desires. Please contact our office to further discuss the benefits of private courses.