Izta from Paso de Cortes
Half way up Izta
Izta is the third tallest mountain in Mexico (after Pico de Orizaba 18,491 ft and Popocatepetl 17,802 ft). It is a non-technical mountain so pretty anybody who likes hiking can do it. There usually a small snow field you need to cross in one of the craters on top but it's flat and no traction device is necessary (some people use microspikes). The climb itself is easy for the most part (class 1 climb) with some good elevation gain. A few sections require to use hands on the rock but you can pick your own "stairway" so it is fairly easy.
The climb takes approximately 12 hours (average or slower pace) so it adviced to start early. It is approximately 9 miles from the trailhead to the summit with a little over 3,000 ft elevation gain.
Fly to Mexico City and get a transportation to Paso de Cortes (approx. 1.5 hour). We used a local company Nómada who offered a good price and set us up with lodging in the local hut as well. They watched over our stuff so nothing got lost while we climbed. There is public transportation to Amecameca as well but price-wise similar and you have to change buses to get to Paso de Cortes. From there it is another 30 minute drive to the La Joya trailhead so I recommend to get a private van (as we did) and you don't have to worry about safety or time to get there.
From La Joya trailhead you start heading up (well defined trail for the most part) over several passes to the summit. There are sections of the route that have loose rock so having a local guide with you is beneficial because they know the route well and will show you the easiest and safest way up (or down). We used Nómada (contact below) and our guide was awesome!
from the summit of Izta
The dirst road from Paso de Cortes is open from 7 AM till 9 PM (there is a bar across the road so no vehicle can pass). They close the road when there is a bigger eruption of Popocatepetl in that area. Another time you can experience the road closed is if they get some snow (even 1 inch may result in closing the road so watch for closure warnings online before you go!
You have to get a permit at the Paso de Cortes visitor center (they open at 7:30 AM).
When to Climb
The best time to climb is during their dry season (October through April). If there is a chance of storm (lightning), be careful as most of the climb is dangerous during lightning storm (exposed)!
You can camp at the trailhead at La Joya or stay at the Alzomoni Hut halfway to the trailhead on the dirt road from Paso de Cortes. This hut gets full during the weekends so book it soon or work with local companies to reserve you a spot. We worked with Nómada who secured us our spots so we didn't have to bring a tent. If you camp, make sure you pack up your stuff or have someone watching over your tents while you are climbing.
We used a local company Nómada who picked us up at the airport, transported us all the way to the trailhead, set us up with hut spots, a guide and a cook. It was a great experience and they charged about the same price as if we tried to set everything up on our own (transportation, food, huts, park permits). I highly recommend these guys - they don't jack up prices because you are American, they are super friendly and nice, can speak English and after our trip, they went out in Mexico City with us and grabbed dinner and drinks with us (of course recommended some amazing local restaurants to go to). We also hiked Nevado de Toluca with them.
Nómada (Mexican Travel and Adventure)
phone: +52 55-4582-2543