Climbing the "white woman":)This was a second climbing trip to Mexico after having climbed Orizaba around the same time last year. Surprisingly, to me at least if felt more difficult than climbing Orizaba.
I arranged to climb with a guide that took care of transportation from Amecameca to La Joya (starting point of the climb), park fees and all the food and cooking while on the mountain.
I arrived on a Monday from Chicago around noon. Took a cab to TAPO bus terminal. From TAPO there are buses to Amecameca about 15 min or so (companies SUR and Volcanes). My guide recommended me three hotels in Amecameca: Panuaya, Forrest and Marques but when I arrived at the station in Amecameca I noticed a motel, San Carlos, 2 blocks from the bus station and right near the main square and market. I decided to book several nights there including the ones spent on the mountain. This is because the hotel was very cheap (120 pessos/night) and I liked the idea to have the room with all my stuff there. Now, of course, you get what you pay for. It is very very basic...
Amecameca it is already at 2500 meters so I decided to wait a day there before going up to la Joya. Next day we drove to La Joya (which is close to 4000 meters) around afternoon and spent the rest of the day and the full next day there for acclimatization. After making sure I felt OK we pushed for the summit around 1:00AM , reached the summit at 8:00AM and got back to La Joya around noon
There are several aspects that make this climb difficult:
1. The loose rock and the ash/sand volcanic material. There are many steep climbs on this route and the loose terrain was really exhausting. On some places it forces you to go fast just to avoid sliding back on the loose stuff and this makes breathing that much harder at that altitude.
2. The ups and downs. On the last half to the summit you need to lose and gain elevation several times over "fake peaks", Because you are already close to 5000 meters, this can be really tiring. In my opinion this is what makes it harder than Orizaba: working hard at 5000 meters for many hours rather than going up and down once only.
This is, of course, subjective, and only my impression one year apart.
Because the glacier receded a lot no crampons are necessary now. (this is true at least in MArch when it is very dry with no precipitations). The only essential tool are a pair of good hiking poles which help a lot especially going down the loose terrain.