Richard and I started hiking ~2am and got up thru the snowy labyrinth and glacier and reached the summit just after sunrise to witness the amazing Pico pyramide shadow cover the Tlachichuc valley below. We got back to the hut ~11am and down to Tlachichuc around 1:30pm. Great day on Pico with great company on my new high point.
I climbed the normal route on Glaciar de Jamapa with my friends Herman de Backer and jerome Mison and our guide Javier from Roberto Flores (El Oso) logistics in a trip combining also Iztacihuatl.
We climbed the jamapa glacier route in 6h50 (10h15 round trip) with good conditions. Temperature was mild (-5 C in the night perhaps), summit's geight checked with GPS was 5648m , quite consistent with normal datas(but there were 2 meters snow on the top) pressure was 518 hpa.
Nice climb, quite steep for the last 300m, it should be climbed by a party familiar with easy climbing in crampons, and able to do a self arrest if needed.
it highly recommended to combine this climb with Izta first for acclimatization and some tourism (see my comment on Izta).
Quite a bit easier than I was anticipating, very nice trip & beautiful weather on the summit - wore a light fleece jacket at the top. Went with a group from RMI, nice accomodations at Senor Reyes compound in Tlachichuca. Happy to find Starbucks in Mexico City.
...with Annelen Kahl, Karl Domangue and Martin Peek, on 16-19 Jan' 2010, via the Jamapa Glacier Route - few hidden crevasses and long icy 40 degree plus stretches
Weather prevented us from attempting the summit (we only had one day), so unfortunately the Piedra Grande hut was as far as I got on Orizaba.
This is some stuff I wanted to know before the trip, as well as my observations of the mountain and the traffic.
We climbed it in 5 days, starting at Tlachichuca. We also spent two nights in the 16000-16500 foot range just below the glacier. Doing this allowed us to watch, probably, 15 or 20 climbers descending and ascending over the three days we were above the hut. What needs to be said is mind boggling. Almost all crews were equipped with helmets, and chose to use them on the glacier. What is unbelievable is that almost all, snapped them to their packs once off the glacier. It must be noted how exposed the main part of the trail leading up to the ridge is. Fresh rockfall is everywhere, I watched 4 separate slides that sent soccerball size rocks into the trail area over 2 or 3 hours. Almost all climbers were in that exposed area well after noon, almost all had chosen to carry their helmets rather than wear them, and around all of them was evidence of extremely recent rockfall. If you don't use a helmet, that's cool . . . but the climb between the hut and the ridge is pretty much the only reason to bring a helmet as far as I'm concerned, so if you like helmets, use yours in the right spot. With that said, look for trail options that cross over the little rocky knoll/ridge and will allow you to avoid the terrain trap where the majority of travelers appear to go, as well as where 90% of the rockfall goes. It appears less direct at first, but is 100 times safer and will likely cost you 10-15 minutes extra at the most.
We climbed the summit from around 16500 after a small storm came through the evening before. About 4 inches of grappel at camp was 4-6 inches of fresh powder at 17000-17500. Snow stability early AM was fine, but the wind had created some nice deep pockets over 1.5 feet deep, surrounded by by bare glacier nieve. These were unstable and I purposefully managed to get a couple to slab out of the pockets and sluff for a few yards until they hit a dry spot. Point is, avalanche danger up there is very real if you get enough fresh snow on top of the glacier. Despite such small pockets, that instability with a few more inches would have been enough to turn us around, and to move our tent. If you get there after March, I suggest getting a snow report from the last two weeks and deciding how stable the snowpack is on which that fresh stuff would fall on. A storm record, backed by your own investigation up top, could easily save your life, or prevent a nasty rescue situation. Another storm following ours, 1 or 2 days later, could have created some treacherous avalanche conditions with that grappel underneath . .. something I figure most of the climbers I met around there, would know nothing about. If you don't know snow, learn about it, or climb the dry season.
Our recomendations are for all climbers with the time, is to plan a night in Hidalgo. The Flor del Hielo hotel is a fantastically simple and quiet place where you can get a hot shower and hang out in North America's highest community. The two brothers that own it, will provide you dinner/ breakfast if you wish, in their own homes. They are very simple and humble people, and they will gladly invite you to break bread with them. We are unanimous that the eggs cooked for us on their little gas camping stove, were the best we'd ever eaten. To boot, these guys clean the hut and would be part of the (hopefully not necessary) rescue team. Great experience.
Lastly, a comparison between lodging that some may appreciate. Canchola will give you your own room, and you will be part of the family. He is very active in the rescue part of the mountain, and he is pretty much daily on the mountain in person. He will want to talk and show you pictures and is very personable. On the other hand, Servimont is a more professional place if you will. You will stay in a very cool, reconstructed factory building(museum). However it is a hostel type format where you will bunk with everyone else around you.(I never saw the private rooms, while they may exist, I only noticed the 30 odd bunk beds in a place clearly marked as the sleeping area) You will find Reyes to be a quiet, educated type, with lots of knowledge . . . however I would be surprised to ever see him on the mountain itself, or involved in rescue operations. Neither is better than the other, they are just very different scenes, and depending on your type, one may fit you better than the other.
* extra notes: Prior to our ascent, the climbers we spoke with complained about the wind factor. They had 3 different trips under their belts, and their opinion was that the wind is always bad once above the ridge. There was even a rogue comment about it being the bottom of the jetstream . . . this is simply ludicrous both by geography as well as altitude. Our experience was more than 48 hours above the ridge, and we had a small 5 hour storm to boot. I would estimate the strongest gusts we felt in the tent might have been 15 knots during the storm, and both mornings were completely calm, traces of a breeze never becoming more than that throughout the day. Absolutely pleasant weather by all considerations. Point being, if you have the time and you're camped high, you may want to rest an extra day if it is windy at 3am and try your luck the next morning for a more pleasant summit.
** Some of the time figures written here are pretty impressive. I can't compare too well since I had a 45-50 pound pack, and most people will have a day pack. But, I would say that a fast group, in shape, can leave 2am(Hut), summit by 8, and be down by 10 or 11. I would say a slow group, could leave 12am(Hut), summit by 9, and be down by 2. Almost every climber I saw on the descent, was in the Labyrinth(exposed) area around or after noon. Just my observations, but there are long sections of frozen, mud/shale . . . or very mucky, muddy shale . . . depending on time of day. Just be prepared to be slower than you think on this peak is my thought, a lot of descriptions have the trail and labyrinth area sounding easier than they are. They aren't technical, but definitely annoying in parts.
*** equipment: If it's your first time and it's a practice peak, by all means. I found some solid ice that would take a screw in a few places. But I found way more crappy ice that would only serve to make your ascent more dangerous if gear were involved. Bottom line, there is really no need for gear of any sort with one exception. I found the ridge at the top to have serious consequences if a slip occurred and an arrest could not be made instantly. We chose to rope up the walk-around at the top using the ridge as natural protection. The snow was fresh enough and soft enough by that time, to be balling up real bad in the crampons, so it was worthy. Overall, I imagine most people's experience is: any gear stayed racked.
**** Crevasses. I had heard all kinds of things, both by accident and by research. My uncle called me to let me know he saw a documentary on Mexican Volcanoes, in it, they allegedly named Orizaba as having massive, dangerous crevasses that have killed multiple people over time. In addition, I found some random writings suggesting they were around. Lastly, some climbers before us told of the crevasse they had found which was big enough they had to walk around, not over . . . and they couldn't see the bottom, it was so deep. On our summit, with the fresh snow, I was eyes and ears for these pits of death. I covered a lot of the glacier on that north, northwest aspect. My findings were a few crevasses, even with snow bridges on them, but none more than 6 inches wide. And . . . their depths were not very impressive. Almost everywhere we ascended, I could either hit rocks with my axe, or chip away the ice to see rocks. Perhaps I was never near the "deep" crevasse, but my observations suggested that nowhere in that snowpack, is it deep enough to get worried about. I obviously didn't see it all, but the crevasse locations were very obvious and easily identifiable for anyone with basic glacier experience. While people have died on Orizaba, and recently . . . I was unable to uncover any stories of crevasse deaths or accidents. You might twist an ankle in one, but you really have no excuse if you fall into one.
An incredible experience from the hostel, our camp neighbors, and the near-full moon with no winds during our summit bid. Impressive views revealing of the geologic history of the area with lava-filled valleys and volcanoes. The glacier was deceivingly long but my buddy and I both made it.
Fun but not easy climb - even though we aclimatized another day would have been helpful.
Climbed with 'Oso' Roberto Flores Rodriguez. Met a lot of cool people in the Piedra Grande hut. Climbed Malinche and stayed at Malintzi cabins Centro Vacacional, then next night in Tlachichuca, then 1 night at Piedra Grand, hiked to about 15,700 the following day then summited day after. Hope the other guys I met up there contact me through summit post. Although tough I had a great time and saw some amazing views!
Great climb, i love the glacier climb!
Got to the Piedra Grande hut at 6 pm on Friday. Reached the summit via the Jamapa glacier Saturday at 07:15 am from the Piedra Grande hut in 4,5 hrs in excellent conditions. Spent two hours at the top, then took my time to get back. A nice climb, felt great.
Mike, Robbin and I spent five days on the mountain. Unfortunately, Mike suffered from the effects of altitude and was only able to sleep a couple hours each night. On the 15th we left our high camp at 16,300 feet near the base of the Jampa Glacier. Mike and Robbin turned around at 17,500 feet due to Mike`s extreme fatigue. I continued solo to the summit. See the Trip Report.
Climbed with a great group who'd only met via SP. 5 years later we pretty much all still climb together! A great trip!
Beautiful weather, realy nice climb.
Beautiful windless day on the Jamapa Glacier.
Pico de Orizaba is a nice climb, since it's height offers relatively no challenge in regards to AMS, and it glacier is ideal for practicing some glacier climbing. Since I wanted to save time and I didn't speak Spanish, I paid Roberto Flores Rogriguez to organized my logistic off and on the mountain. The man is superb. He has been doing this for many years. He knows what he is doing. I even saw a well respected American company asking advices to him directly.
I will publish a trip report elsewhere on this site, including in my new Volcanic Seven Summits Facebook group. Serge
I will be getting to Piedra grande by the 22th. Hoping to make to Tlachichuca on the 21st. Anybody wants to climb there?
What a better way to spend the first day of the new year on the summit of the highest point in Mexico...
This was my second attempt at the summit of Orizaba. I attempted this route in Jan 2009 but was forced to turn back due to time constraints. This year we had impeccable weather and I was graced with a beautiful sunny summit with no wind. I was even able to take an hour nap on the crater rim. It was almost as if i were at the beach (if the beach was 18,500ft high and glaciated).