We arrived at Mexico City’s International Airport a bit after 3pm local time on Wednesday, 12/20/17. This was to be the beginning of a ten-day adventure in which we planned to climb Cerro del Ajusco, Iztaccihuatl (AKA Izta), and Pico de Orizaba. We had information on other Mexico volcanoes in case we had more time or were unable to make Izta or Orizaba.
The flights went smoothly. Three of us are from northern New Mexico and flew into Mexico City on Southwest Airlines by flying ABQ to HOU to MEX. Our other friend is from northern Nevada. He flew on American Airlines from RNO to MEX. He was originally supposed to go through LAX, but at the last-minute AA re-routed him through PHX on a different flight. His connection was so tight that his luggage didn’t arrive until later that night, around midnight. Fortunately, it was delivered intact to the Radisson by AA before we left for Ajusco.
We used an ATM in the Mexico City Airport to get Mexican Pesos. The Mexican bank ATM fee was only $1.50 USD. My bank charged a 1% currency conversion fee and I got 19 pesos per USD exchange rate on 12/20/17. Don’t forget to notify your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be using your cards in Mexico or you may not be able to use them.
This trip had been a long time in planning and we had made reservations months in advance for various things. We had reserved a Suburban with Enterprise Car Rental seven months in advance. Upon arriving and checking-in at the Enterprise counter they told us they only had a Chevy Aveo available. This was not going to work with four Alpinists and our gear. They ignored our protests and dismissed us nonchalantly without even an apology. Needless to say, we are going rounds with Enterprise in the U.S. about this. Fortunately for us, we found some very helpful young women at the Hertz Car Rental counter. They were able to get us into a Suburban, and we were on our way.
We stayed the first night at the Radisson Paraiso Hotel in Mexico City. It’s on the south side of the southern part of El Anillo Periférico (Peripheral Ring in Spanish. This is the outer beltway of Mexico City.). This was a very nice hotel. They kept our gear locked-up for us while we hiked Ajusco. We highly recommend this hotel.
A bit west of the Radisson is the exit south onto La Carretera Picacho-Ajusco (The Picacho-Ajusco Highway). Soon after taking the exit, you’ll see the Six Flags Mexico on the east side of the highway. This highway winds its way in a southerly direction for several miles (or kms, if you prefer). At this location, there is a “Y” in the road. This is the juncture of the road that circumnavigates the Ajusco peaks. We stayed right on Circuito Ajusco and traveled a few more miles to the entrance to the Albergue Alpino Ajusco trailhead. This was Thursday, 12/21/17, and we found a gate closed and locked over the access road to the trailhead parking area. So, we parked in front of one of the roadside restaurants across the street, the one next to the Corona sign that read, “Arco de Monte Alegre”. There was no one there early on a Thursday morning, so we left note in Spanish saying that we’d gone to hike Ajusco, the entrance gate was locked so we parked here, and we’d buy lunch when we got back. We found our car undisturbed and had a great lunch after our hike.
We circumvented the locked gate to Albergue Alpino Ajusco by going through the fence line on the south side of the dirt trailhead parking area. There’s a wood plank suspension bridge over a small gulley. There are many planks missing, so cross it at your own risk. A couple of us chose to go down and cross the dry gulley. All of us did so on the return. A little way up from the suspension bridge many small social trails appear. We followed some initial red and white painted markers and then worked our way over to the east ridge line. The trail went straight up the ridge line, which we measured at 33 degrees with an inclinometer. Within a couple hours we were on the first summit of La Cruz de Marques. It looked like a long distance and a lot of down and up to get to Cerro del Ajusco, but it only took 15-20 minutes to get there. We enjoyed some time on the summit, and then proceeded along the ridge line to the west side summit of El Pico del Aguila. Then it was steeply down the western ridge back to the trailhead and lunch.