Climbing Pico De Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain

If you consider Mexico you consider sitting beneath palm timber and stress-free in cenotes, what you don’t take into consideration is snow-covered mountains and pushing your bodily limits climbing to the highest of them. Each elements of Mexico are lovely, however there’s one which solely a handful of individuals will ever see. In the event you’re in search of a lesser-known journey that may create lifelong reminiscences, then climbing Pico de Orizaba is a must-do for you. After spending 8 months in Mexico, it’s nonetheless the story I take into consideration first when individuals ask me what there’s to do there. Not solely did it gentle a hearth inside me to discover mountains and make my means into mountaineering, it inspired me to discover in methods I by no means imagined when rising up in a small seaside city in Australia.

What’s Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba is an inactive stratovolcano, the best mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America. There’s little else within the space of a lot curiosity in addition to this big mountain towering over the native panorama. Be warned: the climb is a troublesome one. You’ll want earlier expertise with ice axes and crampons expertise (or time to coach up once you get there); a excessive degree of health, and acclimatization to altitude. In the event you shouldn’t have the gear or the expertise you have to a guiding firm. This hike will be harmful, however I’ve at all times discovered life’s most rewarding moments are those which can be hardest to attain.


My expertise climbing Pico De Orizaba

Beginning off…

We stepped out of our cabin in full darkness with solely the sunshine of our head torches pointing in the direction of the blackened peak towering over the panorama in entrance of us. The climate had been a priority however fortunately the silhouetted peak was surrounded by stars giving us hope for a spectacular dawn. We wound our means by way of the slim rocky path for a few hours earlier than lastly stepping over one final giant group of rocks. We laid our eyes on the bottom of the glacier as the primary gentle wrestled with the darkness, turning the horizon from black to blue.

As we strapped our boots into our crampons we tried to estimate the gap we had left in entrance of us, however the seemingly infinite white of the glacier made it onerous to gauge. We may solely actually inform how far we had come. We put the ultimate knots in our rope, attaching ourselves completely to 1 one other for the subsequent few hours, and stepped into the snow. This was the place the true bodily and psychological battle started. We began pushing what felt like straight up at occasions. The battle was actual, however the world offered its motivation because it at all times does. That is the rationale we journey, to see the world in methods we by no means may from again dwelling. As I watched the snow flip from darkish blue to purple to orange because the solar hit the horizon over the Pacific, the great thing about the world reenergized me.

Reaching the summit

The highest of the mountain was nonetheless a couple of hours away and it was only a battle putting one foot in entrance of the opposite, mendacity face down within the snow declaring I had gone far sufficient and being picked up by my accomplice. I actually felt the altitude however she in some way powered by way of. Finally, we took the previous couple of steps onto the highest of the mountain, and the highest of Mexico. We let loose a couple of cheers into the crater, and hugged, smiled and kissed. However our time standing on prime of Mexico’s highest mountain was quick. Because the thick cloud began to roll in adopted by heavy hail, we retreated again down the mountain trying ahead to a pleasant sizzling meal and a steaming cup of espresso.


Methods to get to Pico De Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba lies on the border of Veracruz and Puebla states in south-central Mexico. It’s pretty straightforward to get to. From Mexico Metropolis, catch a bus to Puebla (about 2 hours), a beautiful little city tucked into the mountains south of Mexico Metropolis. From Puebla, you could head to Tlachichuca (one other two hours). That is solely about half the journey. From right here you will must discover a information firm to take you as much as basecamp on the mountain which ought to take one other three hours.

Aspect observe: Puebla is a good looking city that’s value spending a few days exploring. It additionally provides you an unimaginable view over Pico De Orizaba from sure vantage factors.


What to put on when climbing Pico De Orizaba

Mexico just isn’t precisely the place you count on to be taking heat garments to, however belief me, you have to a puffer jacket, heat climbing pants, thermals, gloves, a beanie, some sort of outer jacket and correct climbing boots. With the altitude comes the chilly and the snow. Belief me, it’s to not be taken frivolously. Additionally, you will want an ice axe and crampons which you’ll hire from any of the guiding firms. You possibly can at all times negotiate the worth with these items so don’t neglect to get your self a very good deal.


How onerous it’s to hike Pico De Orizaba

Full disclosure: it’s not straightforward. Nevertheless, there are issues you are able to do to arrange your self. There’s an incredible hike exterior of Mexico Metropolis referred to as Nevado De Toluca, it will get you used to larger altitudes and climbing and also you’ll have a greater concept of how your physique will reply. In case you are match, wholesome and used to excessive altitudes then you shouldn’t have any issues. Keep in mind, for those who shouldn’t have mountaineering expertise you have to a guided firm.


How a lot does it value to hike Pico De Orizaba

There are numerous variables right here. Once I hiked it, it was simply my accomplice and I and we had all our personal gear, our personal transport and expertise sufficient to not want guides. Because of this, it value us virtually nothing besides the transportation as much as base camp (because the street could be very unhealthy you want four-wheel drive.)

In case you have no gear and little expertise you have to a guided firm. This will get a bit of extra expensive however I can assure, just like the aforementioned Inca Path, it’s value the additional cash out of your finances. Costs for guided excursions, together with all of the gear you have to, begin at about 300 USD per individual. However the worth can fluctuate rather a lot relying on the corporate so perform a little analysis earlier than you head out.

If this looks like an excessive amount of for you there are different choices. Iztaccihuatl is one other superb mountain in Mexico that’s over 5000 meters excessive and guided excursions there are sometimes cheaper. In the event you shouldn’t have that a lot time, do your self a favour and ensure you get out of Mexico Metropolis to Nevado De Toluca. Not solely are these cheaper choices, they’re additionally each unimaginable experiences.


You’re extra succesful than you think about

In relation to climbing mountains like Pico De Orizaba you have to to be ready with the precise gear, guides and a few dedication, however that is one thing that everybody with an honest degree of health can obtain. Though I had hiked a number of different mountains in Mexico earlier than, it nonetheless required the decision of my accomplice to assist push me up as there have been one or two factors I used to be prepared to only hand over. The incline and skinny air at 5000 meters can actually do one thing to you!

That is the place skilled guides will be superb. They’ll see your limitations and know when to push you. They’ve an unimaginable means of serving to get individuals to the highest, which you definitely may need thought unattainable at multiple level of the climb!

In case you have ever had the need to hike in these sorts of situations, Mexico is an incredible place to start out, with a couple of peaks over 5000 meters and others sitting not that far behind. That is an unimaginable place to start out your mountaineering journey. Our travels are at all times memorable however sometimes you might have an expertise while travelling that you’ll always remember. Whether or not it’s climbing the Inca path or seeing the Northern Lights for the primary time, there are some reminiscences that reside with us endlessly. Climbing Pico De Orizaba is one in every of these experiences.






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