Combining work and mountain climbing isn’t easy, so you most decide and tell yourself, “Tomorrow I’ll go to the mountains” and honor your word. That’s what I did, so in Tuesday I planned to go on Friday to the Iztaccihuatl volcano. The rainy season is beginning, so maybe the weather would be mostly cloudy, but I didn’t care, after all, almost five months of no mountain activity was making me fell like someone ordinary.
Friday 2, June 2006. I get up at 4 am and eat my breakfast. The only one who was coming with me was my father, so we set up all of our stuffs the night before and departs from our house in Mexico City at 5:30 am and by 7 am we were arriving to “Paso de Cortés”, which is a point between Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes. The problems began here because of the volcano activity and you must bring the permit (of course I had it), but there was nobody to receive that permit and no one to open the road until 10 am (Mexico is always like this). So we left the car in “Paso de Cortés” and walk to the mountain.
Beginning the long walk
There are 8 km (5 miles) to “La Joya”, and there was nobody there, so we began to walk at 7:30 am with a beautiful day. The volcanoes were plenty of snow because it was raining all the weak and this day was the first sunny day (almost specially prepared just for us). It takes one hour and a half to reach the mountain and at 9 am, I began alone the mountain climbing because my father can’t go up there because of his knees. He walk in the valley and went to the waterfalls and I take the ordinary route (Arista del Sol).
Initiating the ascension
The snow began almost at “La Joya” and as I climb higher, the mountain turned so white and brilliant. The clouds stayed low and the sun was my worst enemy because it was very warm day and if I wouldn’t apply sunscreen on my face, I would get a terrible sun burn. Everything was so shining and the cliffs bellow my feet and the walls in front of me made me fill like I was in a place were nobody had ever put a step. I thought I was the only one in the mountain, but when I reach the hut, at 11 am, I found two climbers who spend the night at this place. They told me that the snow began to fall at the afternoon and during the whole night, so that was the reason I didn’t saw any footprint. Also I knew that the clouds would go up and maybe in two hours would begin another storm like yesterday.
The hut is located at 4,700 meters (15,419 ft) and after that point, the snow was very, very deep, almost one meter and I began the final ascension to the knee, which is located at 5000 meters (16,404 ft) and the route was all covered with snow and my legs were buried in all that amount of snow. I decided to climb beside the rocks, where the snow wasn’t deep. Fortunately, the sun was covered by the clouds and the weather change and the snow turn more solid, so I could walk and climb much more easily.
Reaching the summit
Climbing with sun is difficult, and when it got cloudy, finally I could rest, but in a few minutes, I couldn’t see anything. I was hoping that only just for a few minutes, when I reach the summit, I could see the belly glacier and the breast, which is the real summit at 5,280 m (17,322 ft). After all, I was just about only fifteen minutes to reach the knee. At this moment, I knew that it would be the highest point I could climb.
At 12:15 pm I reach the summit and just for a minute, the clouds revealed the belly and I take the pictures as fast as I could. There was no wind but the clouds were getting darker and darker. I only stay there for a few minutes and thought it was a shame to begin descending so fast and not enjoy the victory of reaching the summit.
Running to the base
I didn’t want to be in the middle of a snow storm, and also knowing that I was the only one in the mountain, I took the fastest route, and set down on the snow and began to slide down. I really enjoyed this adventure because the Iztaccihuatl is not always like this and in twenty minutes I was again at the hut and the clouds didn’t let me see the sun again. Also covered everything and if someone don’t know the route, he could get lost because the fog was very dark and you couldn’t see the signs in the mountain (rocks) or the pathway (remember that the mountain was almost only for me).
Also the problem was that if it is snowing at the top, it would be raining at the base, and the rain is much more annoying, so I began to descend as fast as I could to escape from the bad weather. The fog didn’t dissipate and when I arrive to “La Joya”, it began to fall a slight rain. In that place the car was suppose to be parked, but I had to walk all the way down to “Paso de Cortés”. As my father didn’t go up, he returns first to “Paso de Cortés” and took the car and drove to “La Joya” and picks me up at the middle of the road.
A few hours and finally resting at home
I have to say that when I hear the car approaching I felt relief, and when finally I could recognize the car, I stopped to walk and just waited until the car was beside me and I put all my stuffs at the hatch and leave the mountains.
After two hours and a half, we arrive to our home and finally get some food and rest. It wasn’t bad for a day that was not suppose to be good for climbing.