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Beginners on Orizaba and Izta?

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Beginners on Orizaba and Izta?

Postby whiteknuckles » Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:05 pm

I'm just wondering if there are routes on Izta and Orizaba that are suitable for physically fit beginners whose only previous experience is some winter camping, figure 8 knots and climbing 30 to 100 foot indoor climbing walls ranging up to 5.7? In other words I'm next to a complete beginner. Would it be advisable for me to attempt, guided of course, Orizaba and/or Izta?
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Postby lasvegaswraith » Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:35 pm

I would suggest you post some fitness data about yourself and any hiking experience you have to help the SPers advise you. Have you hiked w/ a heavy pack? What is the highest altitude you have been?
The indoor rock wall doesn't really coorelate, as the standard routes on both mtns do not have any real technical sections.
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Postby Woodie Hopper » Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:18 pm

In this case (guided only) yes if you: 1) are very fit 2) can confidently self-arrest with an axe and 3) allow adequate time and smaller peaks for acclimatization.

I think the best idea would be to go to Rainier or Shasta for example first before tackling a 17k+ or 18k+ glaciated peak.

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Postby Woodie Hopper » Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:29 pm

Also even though Ixta doesn't have much in the way of a glacier anymore on the standard route, it's a very long day and possibly two if you use a higher hut. You will spend a lot of time over 14k feet and altitude and physical fitness are therefore serious issues here. If you haven't done an all-day hike before at altitude, I wouldn't consider it. Do you have any experience with rockpiles over say, 12k feet?

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Postby Cheeseburglar » Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:50 am

If you have read the applicable sections of Freedom of the Hills, plan it appropriately (especially for acclimatization) and are a reasonable endurance athlete you'll be fine.
Or you can somehow get an old milk truck, put some cots in the back, and talk a few bad ass people into splitting the driving.
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Postby bird » Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:07 pm

If you are fit and not an idiot, a guide can get you up Orizaba without too much difficulty. Or you might get HAPE and die, but that's part of climbing and has little to do with experience.
Oso is one of the more experienced guides on Orizaba. I watched him get a chain-smoking Japanese dude to the summit in 2005.
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Postby whiteknuckles » Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:19 am

I'm a flatlander. So I have no idea how I'll react to altitude. Altitude to me is like 2,000 feet above sea level. I think I live at about 400ft or something like that.

Fitness: I've run a couple of reasonably fast half-marathons around 1:40 in the last couple of years. That involved a sustained heart rate 180 + for close to two hours. I tried a flatland hike of 20km with 55 pound backpack a couple weeks back. I forget how long it took me - maybe 3 to 5 hours. It wasn't much of a problem. Then again it was in rolling farm hill topography. Up until 2 months ago I had been going to the gym 3-6 days a week for 2 years. We'll say I averaged 4 days a week, but it included a six month stretch of 6 days a week. Typically gym day = 30-90 mins. of cardio (running, cycling, swimming, elliptical) and 4-6 exercises at 10-15 rep. for 4 sets of resistance training a day. Regretably I still look like a gelatinous blob. :lol:
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Postby bird » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:53 pm

whiteknuckles wrote:I'm a flatlander. So I have no idea how I'll react to altitude. Altitude to me is like 2,000 feet above sea level. I think I live at about 400ft or something like that.

Fitness: I've run a couple of reasonably fast half-marathons around 1:40 in the last couple of years. That involved a sustained heart rate 180 + for close to two hours. I tried a flatland hike of 20km with 55 pound backpack a couple weeks back. I forget how long it took me - maybe 3 to 5 hours. It wasn't much of a problem. Then again it was in rolling farm hill topography. Up until 2 months ago I had been going to the gym 3-6 days a week for 2 years. We'll say I averaged 4 days a week, but it included a six month stretch of 6 days a week. Typically gym day = 30-90 mins. of cardio (running, cycling, swimming, elliptical) and 4-6 exercises at 10-15 rep. for 4 sets of resistance training a day. Regretably I still look like a gelatinous blob. :lol:

Fitness is a whole nother topic. (crossfit! )
As for Orizaba, you'll have the stamina to make it up. If you go with a guide and spend a decent amount of time acclimating, you'll be fine. Keep reading up, educating yourself, and go for it. As for acclimating, spending an extra day or two sleeping at ~8,000 feet and taking some day hikes higher would be good.
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Postby whiteknuckles » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:15 am

I know this has all been talked about on here before, in one form or another, but what is a reasonable acclimitization schedule?

I was thinking about using Oso as a guide - assuming he'll take a newb up. They offer an 8 day schedule: summiting Malinche, 14,500 feet, on day 3 and hiking up to 15,700 on day 5 and then summiting Orizaba on day 6. Is that really pushing it?

http://www.orizabamountainguides.com.mx/orizaba4.html

day 1: mexico city - 7,350 ft.
day 3: malinche - 14,500
day 5: on Orizaba hike up to 15,700 and return to lower altitude
day 6: summit - 18,000 and something
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Orizaba

Postby BLong » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:26 am

I think that is pushing it. Besides, the whole point of climbing is to have fun, right? Why not spend 2-3 weeks in Mexico acclimatizing, hiking, and climbing as opposed to 7 days? The longer you spend at altitude, the better you will feel on summit day.

If 7 days is all the time you have, I would go someplace that isn't as high as Orizaba.

By the way, don't pay to get a guide up Malinche! It is super easy to do on your own (transport, logistics, and lodging). There are plenty of trip reports on here that describe the whole process. A guide on Ixta is a good idea in my opinion, because some parts of the route are hard to find, and it is a long day. As far as Orizaba, taking a guide is a prudent choice. The maze section could be difficult in the dark!
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Postby Cheeseburglar » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:42 am

It's a bit aggressive. What is the standard these days? Sleeping 3,000 feet higher per night? You need to look at what elevation you'll sleep at. From sea level, with that schedule, you might be in trouble. Or maybe not.
Here is the probable schedule for my upcoming trip, coming from Denver and climbing to 14k as training:
Day 1: Xinantecatl (Nevada Teluca)
Day 2: Climb on Ixta, maybe even the top!
Day 3: Travel day to Piedra Grande
Day 4: Acclimatization climb on Orizaba
Day 5: Possible summit
Day 6: Possible summit
Day 7: Possible summit

More importantly, sleeping elevations:
Night 0: 8200 (where we live)
Night 1: 10-12,000?
Night 2: 12,926
Night 3: 8,530
Night 4: 13,943
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Postby whiteknuckles » Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:57 am

From the sounds of it if I find someone who'll take me up I'd probably be well advised to come a couple of days early to get a few more days of acclimitization in.

At the risk of sounding very naive though, don't people do this sort of thing on Kilimanjaro all the time. I mean they go from basically sea level, in towns around the mountain, to 19,000 + in 4 to 7 days - depending on the route.
Last edited by whiteknuckles on Tue Oct 06, 2009 4:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Kiefer » Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:58 am

I've got to agree wit Blong. This schedue seems WAY to aggressive.
Even fit people living at 5,000+ feet have trouble with altitude.
I personally think you're setting yourself up for failure by ascending too quickly.
Do you have extra time to spend in MXC or Tlachichucha? It would be a real shame to get to La Malinche & find out you have to turn around due to migranes, dizziness, severe SOB or other when Orizaba is supposed to happen a few days hence.
Technically speaking, the mountain is pretty easy and straight-forward but you simply can't account for altitude until you get there.
Do you have time to head out to Colorado? A couple 2-3 days maybe? It would make for a good pre-gauge test of 'things'.
You don't want to get down there & have everything go all to hell. That would prolly leave a bad taste in your mouth, it certainly would mine.
Do you have other options?

whiteknuckles wrote:I know this has all been talked about on here before, in one form or another, but what is a reasonable acclimitization schedule?

I was thinking about using Oso as a guide - assuming he'll take a newb up. They offer an 8 day schedule: summiting Malinche, 14,500 feet, on day 3 and hiking up to 15,700 on day 5 and then summiting Orizaba on day 6. Is that really pushing it?

http://www.orizabamountainguides.com.mx/orizaba4.html

day 1: mexico city - 7,350 ft.
day 3: malinche - 14,500
day 5: on Orizaba hike up to 15,700 and return to lower altitude
day 6: summit - 18,000 and something
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Postby lasvegaswraith » Tue Oct 06, 2009 4:10 am

To echo some of the others, it seems a little aggressive for someone not used to the altitude. What other hikes have you done? How high have you climbed before? If you've hiked at or around 10k or 12k and had difficulty, that may be an indicator of some rough roads ahead. If you don't have any climbs over 10k, I would definitely suggest some for training and to see how your body copes with the effects of altitude.
Can you travel to get some higher climbs under your belt prior to your Mexico trip? There are plenty of moderate to 'easy' 13ers and 14ers in CO and CA to get a feel for how you're going to hold up.
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Postby whiteknuckles » Tue Oct 06, 2009 4:17 am

The problem is, at the time of year I'm thinking of going, early January, everything around where I live is in the dead of winter. I live in Ontario, which is basically equivalent to the U.S. midwest. As far as I can tell there aren't any objectives for a beginner in the dead of a Canadian or for that matter an American winter - maybe it's too dangerous for a novice? I've got my mind set on doing something over the christmas break but I can't see anything north of the Mason-Dixon line.
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