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Acclimation and the Sarcofago

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Acclimation and the Sarcofago

Postby Athos791 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:28 pm

Hey everyone,
I am heading back to Mexico again this winter and am trying to devise the perfect acclimation plan, if there is such a thing, to get me safely up Orizaba this time without any HAPE. I have 11 days in Mexico this time and will be on Orizaba for all of them. Here are two possible itineraries I have been towing with.

Itinerary 1:
December 28 - flying
29 – arrive, transfer to tlachichuca
30 – hike towards PG (Piedra Grande) and camp at 11k ft.
31 – Hike rest of way to PG
1 – hike to 15.5k camp and sleep at PG
2 – hike to 16.5k and sleep at PG
3 – rest day
4 – hike to 16.5k and camp
5 – summit day return to PG
6 – second attempt summit day Return to Tlachichuca
7 – drive to Mexico City and fly home

Itinerary 2:

29 – Arrive, transfer to Tlachichuca
30 – Hang in Tlach all day
31 –hike to 11k and sleep
1 – hike to PG and sleep
2 – hike to 15.5k and sleep PG
3 – hike to 16.5k and sleep PG
4 –hike to 16.5k and camp
5 –summit day
6 –second attempt summit day
7 –leave for MX city and fly home

Also I was considering an ascent of the Sarcofago for some acclimation other than making trips to the glacier and back. I know it has been climbed numerous times, but can not find any information on it besides in Secor's book saying the the Ruta Espinosa can involve summiting the Sarcofago then heading up the Jamapa. If anyone has any experience with this specifically I would be curious to hear about it before I propose the Idea to Oso...
Thanks everyone,
Luke
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Orizaba

Postby rmick25 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:08 pm

Have you thought about doing a acclimation hike on one of the lower volcanoes such as Izta, La Malinche, or even Nevado de Toluca? Izta is definitely the most interesting volcano I've ever climbed and would definitely recommend it.

When I was in Mexico I climbed Izta and Pico on a fairly relaxed itinerary. Spending time in Amecameca, Cholula, Puebla, in 10 days with no altitude problems. (I live at 3,500ft)

This included:
-2 nights in Amecameca. Good place to stock up and find ride for Izta. The cemetery on the hill just outside of town is a great hike for great views of Popo and Izta.
-3 nights on Izta
-1 night in Puebla- spent day in Cholula (best torta in Mexico, thanks Nacho!) on the way to Puebla which is a great city.
-1 night in Tlachichuca
-2 nights in Piedra Grande with option of one night at 15,500-16000 high camp. I didn't high camp and ended up spending a unintentional night at Piedra Grande after summiting because of a misscommunication.

If your going to be in Mexico that long I would think climbing something else as well as Pico would be much more rewarding and interesting than hauling a weeks worth of food and supplies up Pico. My two cents

Either way Good Luck and let me know if you have any other questions
Last edited by rmick25 on Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby splattski » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:30 pm

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here:

The main issue is SLEEPING HEIGHT. This is because at rest, your pulse and breath slow down, adding to the acclimatization issues. Recommended is to only move your sleeping height up 1000' per day.

Serious AMS issues (HAPE or HACE) usually take about 18 hours to set in. Once you are within range of a day climb to the summit (and not already in danger of AMS), you can go for it with minor altitude issues (headache and nausea). The reason some folks seem to get it on a day trip is that they were already on their way to AMS before they left their tent.

Moving up gradually from 11k to 16.5k won't help if you got to 11k too fast. Instead of camping several times above Piedra Grande, consider trying to arrive at Piedra Grande already acclimatized through a gradual upward progression. Spend a night there and hike up through the labyrinth. Then another night, and go for the summit. In good conditions, lots of folks go from Piedra Grande to the summit in a day.

I think you can also benefit from going down in the middle of your acclimatization, e.g. Stay at 10k and climb Malinche, then go down to Puebla at 8k to recover. Then back up to 11k to sleep, etc.
Think of all those Everest books you've read where they put the route in, then go down to base camp, then go for the summit.
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Postby bird » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:00 pm

splattski wrote:Someone correct me if I'm wrong here:

The main issue is SLEEPING HEIGHT. This is because at rest, your pulse and breath slow down, adding to the acclimatization issues. Recommended is to only move your sleeping height up 1000' per day.

Serious AMS issues (HAPE or HACE) usually take about 18 hours to set in. Once you are within range of a day climb to the summit (and not already in danger of AMS), you can go for it with minor altitude issues (headache and nausea). The reason some folks seem to get it on a day trip is that they were already on their way to AMS before they left their tent.

Moving up gradually from 11k to 16.5k won't help if you got to 11k too fast. Instead of camping several times above Piedra Grande, consider trying to arrive at Piedra Grande already acclimatized through a gradual upward progression. Spend a night there and hike up through the labyrinth. Then another night, and go for the summit. In good conditions, lots of folks go from Piedra Grande to the summit in a day.

I think you can also benefit from going down in the middle of your acclimatization, e.g. Stay at 10k and climb Malinche, then go down to Puebla at 8k to recover. Then back up to 11k to sleep, etc.
Think of all those Everest books you've read where they put the route in, then go down to base camp, then go for the summit.

I agree. This is excellent advice. Was thinking along the same lines earlier. Look at it this way, the plan you have outlined makes sure you never get a good nights sleep. Going back to Tlachi or Puebla in the middle to get a good rest is a great idea. Then two nights at PG, no more, and skip the high camp. Yes it gives you a shorter summit day, but it really sets you up for another crappy night, and just beats you up at altitude for a longer amount of time.
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Postby Athos791 » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:16 pm

Splattski and bird. I was thinking about heading back to tlach for a night or two and am glad to hear others think this would be a good idea. I will writeup a new itinerary and post it later.. Thanks for the solid advice guys. I'm trying to do everything I can to avoid what happene last year on Orizaba...
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Postby splattski » Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:01 pm

bird wrote:the plan you have outlined makes sure you never get a good nights sleep.

Well put. I've learned to use a bad night's sleep as an indication that I am poorly acclimated.
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Postby Athos791 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:18 am

How does something more like this look? Feel free to offer a tweaked version.

28 - flying
29 – arrive in Mexico City, transfer to tlachichuca
30 – hang in tlachichuca
31 – hike to 11k and sleep
1 – hike to PG and sleep
2 – hike to 15/16k and sleep at PG
3 – Spend all day at PG and sleep at Tlach
4 – head back to PG and rest all day
5 – summit day
6 – summit day 2
7 – return to Mexico city and fly home
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Postby bird » Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:25 pm

Athos791 wrote:How does something more like this look? Feel free to offer a tweaked version.

28 - flying
29 – arrive in Mexico City, transfer to tlachichuca
30 – hang in tlachichuca
31 – hike to 11k and sleep
1 – hike to PG and sleep
2 – hike to 15/16k and sleep at PG
3 – Spend all day at PG and sleep at Tlach
4 – head back to PG and rest all day
5 – summit day
6 – summit day 2
7 – return to Mexico city and fly home

I would think that would be a very good plan.
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Postby splattski » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:57 pm

Agreed, assuming that "rest" doesn't mean immobility- get out, walk around, go for an easy hike, etc.
Just don't do anything that makes your pulse race.
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Postby Athos791 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:02 pm

Thanks guys, I appreciate the input.
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Postby Cheeseburglar » Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:04 am

I take it your are discarding Ixta, Malinche or Nevado Toluca do to the traveling logistics?
Those are neat places as well. You can camp at a lot of places in Mexico.
In October, we camped at the base of Toluca and at Paseo de Cortez between Ixta and Popo. Both are pretty high in elevation. There seem to be very few rules about where you can't camp in the National Parks in Mexico. You'll probably end up paying someone 5 or 6 dollars worth of Pesos.
Your new plan seems reasonable. Coming from sea level, I'd try to average sleeping at an elevation about 1,500 higher per night above 10,000, or maybe 8,000 feet. That is pretty conservative.
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Postby HeyItsBen » Fri Dec 11, 2009 9:04 am

Athos791 wrote:How does something more like this look? Feel free to offer a tweaked version.

28 - flying
29 – arrive in Mexico City, transfer to tlachichuca
30 – hang in tlachichuca
31 – hike to 11k and sleep
1 – hike to PG and sleep
2 – hike to 15/16k and sleep at PG
3 – Spend all day at PG and sleep at Tlach
4 – head back to PG and rest all day
5 – summit day
6 – summit day 2
7 – return to Mexico city and fly home


This seems very conservative. Not a bad thing but overkill IMO. Returning to Tlachichuca seems unnecesary unless you're not acclimating well. I think you'll be well acclimated especially since you plan to hike from Tlach to PG (most just take the jeep). I'd skip hanging in Tlachichuca as well unless you just want to see the town, I'd grab some fresh food for the climb and head up, you might end up with an extra few days to bag Ixta or sightsee in Puebla. This would change your sleeping elevations to:

29 (day 1) - 9000 ft
30 (day 2) - 11000 ft
31 (day 3) - 14000 ft
1 (day 4) - 14000 ft (hiking up to 15.5k)
2 (day 5) - 14000 ft
3 (day 6) - summit attempt

Also, on day 5, I'd suggest slowly hiking partway up to 15/16 again if you feel you have extra energy, it really doesn't take too long and that way you have the route down for your summit attempt, that first few thousand feet can be a bit of a maze.

Just my way of doing things, but I think this is pretty reasonable. In comparison, it's common for people to summit Kilimanjaro (500 ft higher) on Day 5 and sometimes even Day 4, although that's too fast for me and probably most people.
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Postby Athos791 » Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:28 am

Thanks for the replies everyone. Very good info. And Benjamin, after a close call and getting HAPE last season on Orizaba, I felt over-conservative is better than under. Sadly, however, after a knee injury during basketball this year, I will not be going to Mexico this winter. Kinda put a damper on my mountaineering plans for this winter, but should hopefully be up and running within the next few weeks, and good to go for training again for my trips this summer.
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Re: Acclimation and the Sarcofago

Postby gotschall@fordham.edu » Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:39 pm

I'm wondering how much experience is required to climb Pico de Orizaba. I have no experience with ropes and pins, but I do have experience using an ice axe and crampons, as well as experience in high-altitude. I reached the summit of Mt. Whitney (no guide, overnight summit up the ice chute, roughly 30 degrees +/-); Jebel Toubkal (in Morocco; roughly 30 degree snow field ascent during early morning); Mt. Kilimanjaro (non-technical); etc. I lived in Cusco (11,000 ft.) for 6 months this year and did numerous hikes in the 15,000 ft. + range. I am young, athletic, healthy, etc.

Is this sufficient? Is the Jamapa Glacier safe? How risky is it to not use a guide? Are ropes necessary?

Any help you can give me is greatly appreciate. I'm confident that I can do this mountain, but I want to be sure and address all safety and technical concerns before committing.

Thanks in advance!
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