Acclimation hike for Iztaccihuatl
This climb of La Malinche was planned as acclimation for climbing Iztaccihuatl. At an elevation above 14,500’ and a trailhead at 10,200’ it served beautifully for that purpose. An integral part of this plan was staying at Centro Vacacional IMSS La Malintzin located at the trailhead.
Our journey to La Malinche started at TAPO bus station in Mexico City. Here my wife & I met Tyler, who contacted me through 14ers.com. Tyler was traveling in Mexico for a month and wanted to hook up to climb some of the volcanoes.
TAPO bus station is a large facility with several bus lines serving locations throughout Mexico. Several buses leave each day for the major towns around Mexico City. For those still needing Mexican cash, ATMs are located in the center of the “ring.” We found a first class bus going to Apizaco for 107 pesos. It was leaving in minutes and an hour & half later we were dragging our bags through Apizaco to the colectivo stand. The colectivo stand was about 8 blocks farther along the same main road the bus arrived on.
In Mexican towns, colectivos are vans that serve the nearby smaller communities. We had 20 minutes to buy some food locally before the colectivo left for La Malinche. The fare was 20 pesos per person. At 1:00 pm we were dropped off just inside the entrance at Centro Vacacional. For 1044 pesos we rented a cabin for 2 nights. A few weeks before leaving we had our Spanish speaking neighbor call and make reservations. 011-52-24646-107-00 x 677 (between 9am & 4pm central)
The cabin was pretty nice for trailhead accommodations. It had 6 bunk beds, a kitchen area with a fridge & sink (no stove), TV, fireplace and a shower with hot water. The beds had sheets, blankets & pillows, but since the hut wasn’t heated you should bring a sleeping bag. There are several huts spread along a network of sidewalks on the hill-side. There didn’t appear to be many other guests. The facility has a restaurant and gift shop, which were open when we arrived, but not when we really wanted them after the climb.
Just outside the gate are a couple small stores and a restaurant. We were able to buy our water in 5 liter jugs, pop, chocolate milk & some snacks. More substantial grocery items should be bought before leaving Apizaco. The restaurant had a limited menu but we were able to get a hot meal there after the climb.
For a map I used the topo found at the following link: http://www.bicimapas.com.mx/Malinche_Blair.htm
I cropped it down to what I needed and printed it on 11 x 17 paper. The original 1:50,000 map printed at approximately 1:25,000. This map features a UTM grid. The grid isn't labelled on the map, so I had to wait until I got there and use my GPS to label it. The coordinates I give agree with the solid line grid on the map. The datum is NAD27 Mexico, UTM zone 14 latitude band Q. I used a basic yellow model Garmin eTrex. Most of the coordinates were taken without allowing settling time. Use at your own risk!
The trailhead is just a little ways up the hill from the resort entrance. UTM 600648 2131810 elevation 10268’ 3130m. The beginning of the trail is the same road you arrive on. There is a gate blocking the road to vehicle traffic. We chose to walk up the road with all its switch-backs but there is also a dirt trail that basically goes straight up the hill. The entire route is heading basically south and drifting little east. At 601634 2129651 el 11336’ 3455m we left the road and now took to the persistently straight uphill trail. This trail was marked with a sign. There was a notable steep stretch not long after leaving the road. After the trail became less steep again we hit tree-line at 601778 2127706 el 12850’ 3917m.
There is a notable north ridge with a high point labeled C. Tlachichihuatzi on the map. The map shows a trail to the west of this feature. While still below tree-line I had seen an overgrown road which might have lead to this route. The well traveled trail however is on the east side of this visually obvious ridge. There is a saddle between C. Tlachichihuatzi & La Malinche. The trail turns west an up an ugly loose stretch to gain the ridge well above the saddle at 601699 2126950 el 13854’ 4223m.
After gaining the ridge the route became more stable. We now skirted ridge obstacles by staying to the west side. After passing a rock outcropping we walked the rim of what seemed to have been a crater. There were a few third class scrambling moves to gain the summit at 601772 2126471 el 14572’ 4442m.
Times: Cabin 7:30am, Trailhead Gate 7:45, Summit 12:15 – 12:45, Trailhead Gate 3:30pm.
We had great weather for the climb. Not much wind, no precipitation, few clouds and the requisite amount of smoke in the air below. I was wearing two fleece jackets on top but no Gortex.
The next morning we took a colectivo to Apizaco where we caught a bus to TAPO. The colectivo arrived at 9:00am. The next ride would have been at 1:00pm. At TAPO we took another bus to Amecameca from where we would climb Iztaccihuatl. This trip for for Iztaccihuatl is at: http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/377355/Iztaccihuatl-UTM.html