First: use the 'Joaquin Canchola Limon' hostel. Maybe the best hostel experience I've had with people who were so kind and fixtures in the local community (to my knowledge they were the first hostel there, and Joaquin even helped build the freaking hut). Spent some time with friends at the other options, and not where it's at. Really can't say enough good stuff.
Got to the hut on a Monday, took Tue/ Wed to acclimatize (coming directly from sea level) and do some route finding. The 'Labyrinth' wasn't anywhere near as bad as I was expecting, and snow conditions were absolutely perfect - so overall pretty mellow (although, we did basically nail the best weather window of the season, that I know of). We did get a pretty high res gpx file for the path, but there were no parts that were super hard to fund (mostly marked with good blazes), and even if you did get lost, I didn't see any options that would make sense that were above low 4th class (the trail/ easiest option basically being 2nd class). Summit Thursday, starting just before 2am, and taking about 10 hours (took our time on the way up, and really took our time on the way down). Talked to a guy who said he had or has the fkt at sometime <3hrs and I could definitely see it. Did see some VERY small crevasses on the glacier (3"-1' max), but weren't particularly concerning.
Overall, because of the long acclimatization and good weather, very smooth trip - but really stunning.
Bring lots of TP, water, and stay with Joaquin.
liked the labyrinth and the snow part, though the last seemed quite steep and endless to me
Traveled to Tlachichuca, have dinner and stay with Mr. Reyes at his soap factory turned mountain lodge. Hiked up to a high camp around 16,000' the day before summit climb, then descended back to the Piedra Grande hut and got a ride down to Tlachichuca to again stay with Mr. Reyes.
Incredible trip, great memories.
Been dreaming of climbing this mountain for nearly 6 years. Was able to top out on a day of perfect weather.
Planned a trip to climb Pico de Orizaba with Ivan Loredo Vidal. We got to basecamp and it was pouring rain all night so we couldn’t climb. I was pretty disappointed since I’d paid about 10k pesos for all the expenses of the trip, plus taking time off work. So at 2:30 in the morning, Ivan and I agreed we wouldn’t attempt to climb in the rain, and I would instead join another group in about a month.
I had paid upfront for his fee, plus all the transportation, food, 3 sets of batteries he bought for himself, etc. So I was losing a lot of money and would have to spend it all again the next time, minus his fee. By joining another group, I was making sure he’d get paid the same but actually would make the climb once instead of twice. I had paid 1500 pesos to rent his clothing, and the one thing he said he would reimburse me for was the gear I didn’t use at all, which was 650 pesos worth.
As we are in the taxi to his house, where I left my bags and needed to grab them before going back to Mexico City, I asked for the 650 reimbursement. He gave me 500 pesos. I pointed to his calculation of the rentals and said it was 650. He said, “No matter how pissed you’re going to get or pout this is all you’re going to get.” I told him using the word “pout” for my simple request was misogynistic – he proceeded to say “if you were a man I wouldn’t give you anything”. Then he conveniently decided he was “done with me”, would not take me on a tour or speak to me anymore about the fact he was stealing to me and breaking a promise, went to his apartment dramatically taking my bags out, triple locking the door behind him, telling the taxi driver to come up because he didn’t trust the “gringa loca” (I am a 110 pound female and he is about 3x that) and calling me a “b****”. !!! So just completely stole my money.
There were red flags that he had a questionable character – from saying things like “women always want to try to climb in the rain and then they come down wet and get b*tchy, or at least the Mexican women do,” to the fact that he moved basecamps from the bigger one to the tiny isolated one when another group of climbers came up, saying “they won’t stop talking, plus they like you and are going to ask questions, like do you have a boyfriend, and maybe you don’t, and maybe they’re lucky,” which I thought was particularly odd thing for him to complain about – the idea that someone might ask me if I have a boyfriend? (You would have hoped that a guide might realize a woman traveling with him alone might feel very vulnerable and be sensitive to that – but no, he insisted on going to an isolated, tiny basecamp away from other people despite me telling him I’d rather stay at the other one). But in case there was any doubt about his character, after stealing my money and insulting me, he texted me a slew of insults saying he should've "barfed on me" and I was a typical 'hypocritical Catholic'.
He also seemed to have no regard for his other clients. We saw the forecast that it was going to rain much more the following night, and he had a group coming to climb. I asked him if he should call them early so they could turn around, since they were driving from San Luis Potosi. He told me, “They wouldn’t want to turn around,” and so didn’t call them, so they could go through a similar experience that I did.
TL;DR: Avoid going to Pico with Ivan Loredo Vidal. He is a completely unscrupulous, miserable thief.
Climbed several acclimatization peaks before this, including Izta 2 days before. Friend didn't want to get up early which ended up working out well as we passed about 30 people bailing and about 30 people still on the way up. Up in 3:41 with only three groups making the summit ahead of me that started almost 5hrs earlier. Car to car in 6:43.
Weather window held with very good conditions.
This was my first summit of Citlaltépetl.
I arrived in the afternoon two days before in order to sleep at altitude overnight and to let my body fully acclimate. The next day I hiked up to the base of the glacier to learn the route. After hanging out at the base for a while I hiked back to the refuge to prepare my summit bag, eat dinner, and sleep (around 4pm). I began my summit attempt the next morning at 1:00am. November was incredibly dry so the glacier was mostly hard and flakey ice. The ascent felt incredibly long while on the glacier but the good weather and eventual sunrise made it all worth it.
The mountain had just received a fresh layer of snow and the weather/wind conditions could not have been better. My three person team was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise at the summit.
Day 1- Get to the hut late afternoon. Brian started feeling ill again and made the hard (but smart) decision to head back down end enjoy some churros and tacos. Hiked up about 500 feet to avoid the crowds. Weather moved in. Looked bad.
Day 2- Big carry to high camp. Several teams turned back because of weather and ice. Nobody made the summit. Reportedly, the glacier was climbable up to about 17.5 thousand feet. That night, winds reached up to 50mph and neither me nor Zach felt good enough to sleep apparently as we both tossed around like crazy.
Day 3- The winds died down so I told Zach we should push for the summit. Zach agreed eventually and we crawled out of our bags dehydrated and hungry. One other team of 2 climbers was ahead of us by about 15 minutes by the time we got started at 07:30. About halfway up the glacier (around 17,200'), I started to notice the snow had blown off and my crampons weren't holding well. The ice was almost entirely exposed in certain places and we were facing a nearly 40° angle as a result. To say it was a slog is an understatement. I pushed ahead of Zach by about 10 minutes, and caught the other two climbers on the crater rim. Zach and I regrouped when he reached the rim and sumitted together at just before 10:00! Us 4 were the only people to make the summit that day, and I figure that, unless there was someone on Denali or Logan, we were likely the highest people on North American soil for a few minutes while up top. Took a while for us to get down after packing up because I made Zach stop for some crampon bouldering (7/10 form), and we were back at the Conchola's before 17:00!
Thank you so much Brian and Zach for a great trip! Couldn't have done it without both of you! Time for some churros and beer!
I had a perfect solo climb at the end of this September to Pico de Orizaba. Here few remarks that I didn't see in the post.
As it was September, it was really tough to share a ride with anyone as I couldn't find any other climbers in Tlachichuca. I decided to organize a one-way trip through the Reyes family for 500 pesos. Reyes was very nice and called all guides to ask if someone is going up - I figured that in two days a group would be going up. I wouldn't be able to join them, but at least there would be someone else.
I slept alone at the smaller refuge. On the first day I was completely alone and I did an acclimatization climb to 5000 m. I had just climbed Izta so I was in pretty good shape. I left at 1 am, about 30 minutes after the bigger group (8 people) left. It was pretty warm and the sky was clear with no wind - all the way up! The trail on maps.me is not exact but as there are many stone piles, it was easy to navigate and I don't think there are risks of getting lost, as soon as you make sure you locate stone piles every few minutes.
It was quite easy to get until the glacier part, which is definitely the toughest as there was no snow, yet the ice was soft enough for the crampones to hold safely - didn't really need the ice axe. It's quite heavy for the ankles to be the whole accent in 40 degree angle. Reached the summit around 8 am so missed the sunrise but it was perfect - I even opened my jacket as the weather was quite warm with very little wind. I would estimate just a couple of minus degrees. Going down I was quite exhausted.
All in all I think that as the weather was so good, and the conditions were not icy, it was a very easy climb, even though physically very demanding, and from the other group only half made it all the way up. Should not underestimate the altitude - there was also a solo American climber who claimed to have climped so many high hills that this is a piece of cake, but he descended after just one hour climbing up. The crevasses were clearly visible and not more than 1 or 2 meters deep.
I was lucky to get a free ride back to Tlachichuca. I heard that very sadly the glacier is probably going to melt totally within the next 5 years so you better go when you still can, and do what you can to slow down climate change. There were some scientists studying the glacier the recording sounds of the glacier as an "audio documentary" to memorize the Jamapa glacier once it's gone.
Start at 1 a.m. from Piedra Grande hut, low visibility because of the fog lead to continuing past a turn in the labyrinth and going up the gully on the right side of the valley. Luckily, it turned out well and we got a more interesting route than the normal way. Reached the glacier at 4:30-ish and found a strong wind and continued low visibility. Summited a few hours later and were lucky enough to have a small break from the wind and fog and got to enjoy the view.
Got to within 100 meters of the summit but ended up turning back.
Started my climb too early and ended up near the summit about an hour before sunrise. Quite cold with fairly strong winds - too cold to just sit down and do nothing for an hour while waiting for the sun to come up, so I turned back.
Will probably start between 2am and 3am on my next attempt, as I climbed too fast for a 12:30am start.
Here's a blog post I wrote on doing the climb independently if anyone is interested.
How to climb Pico de Orizaba
Our team of five climbed up the north side of Pico de Orizaba on Friday 21, 2019. Alpine start from piedra grande hut at 1am, and had great weather through the climb. The Laberinth section had moderate ice requiring crampons and some anchor set-up. The glacier was in great condition, with good ice wavelets facilitating steps. No crevasses or ice bridges seen. We roped-up on ascent and partial descent, as the early afternoon made the glacier slushy towards the bottom. Great conditions at the top, about 15 degrees Fahrenheit with a 10-20 Mph wind.
Whole family made the summit, beautiful conditions, no snow on the south-side route from 13k camp in Valle del Encuentro
Climbed as a 4 member team through a grant from the Mazamas climbing group. Did Volcan la Malinche as an acclimatization climb. Used Servimont for transportation and logistics (excellent). Stayed at the main hut and the smaller hut. Had some altitude issues in the group but nothing that couldn't be overcome. Played my trumpet on the summit!
Conditions this year, per the locals, are much better than last year.
We awoke at midnight and Departed the OMG Basecamp (just below the Refugio) at 1:15am for the ruta regular. At the refugio, most people (incorrectly) assume the covered culvert is a concrete path and walk up it - don't be fooled! There are large chunks of concrete missing and the hollow sound tells me that some tourist is going to put their leg through another weak spot soon.
After the short (relatively flat) stretch above the Refugio, the burly and dusty trail led us along the base of the sarcophagus. There we put on crampons for the labrynth before arriving at the base of the glacier proper.
Conditions on the glacier were optimal with good consolidated snow and no evidence of crevasses or snow bridges.
Locals say that weather has been relatively good this year. I suffered 45+ mph winds that dramatically increased the "suck factor" but that is appearently an anomaly.
Ascent time: 5:45
Descent time: 2:30
And I'm 40 years old - so, suck it millennials
For logistics and guiding, I used Orizaba Mountain Guides and was very pleased with everything.
Feel free to PM if you need specific beta
Summited with my guide (Juan Mendoza with Orizaba Mountain Guides) and then solo snowboarded (barely) from the top and down along the sloping crater rim. Treacherous icy conditions existed, however, immediately below the rim on the steep upper slopes. I decided to use crampons to climb down to slightly less steep conditions and where I thought the snow was bit softer (but still crusty) to allow snowboarding. As I started to descend again on my snowboard, I fell on my first attempt to turn as it was still too icy to hold the carve. I arrested by twisting my body to my side after skidding about 50 meters. I had decided to snowboard with my ice axe in my right hand, but it popped out of my grip immediately on my initial fall. I was very fortunate that I came to a stop. I decided it was too dangerous to attempt any further snowboarding. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks later another American climber died from a fall after he lost control while skiing the continued icy slopes below the summit.
Went up the Jamapa Glacier route. It snowed overnight and the ground was covered from Piedra Grande Hut with fresh snow. The aqueduct section was iced up and we had to walk next to it. The night was still ok - we started around 1:30 Am. Clouds were moving during the night since we saw lights of towns below us on and off. We never got to see the sunrise or the morning shadow Pico creates.
We ran into a guided party above the Labyrinth section and it started to snow at that point. The jamapa glacier had a fresh snow on it and I was wondering about a slide danger. (It seemed stable on the way up, but it was sliding a little bit and layers were moving on the way down). We zigzagged up with a guided party below us (me and my companion). The guided party turned around at about 18,000 feet and we continued. It was a hard decision here, but we did not want to come back and spent another night at Piedra Grande Hut. The conditions were hard - no visibility, hard to estimate whether the slope is up or down, painful tiny ice hitting our faces. I used the Gaia application on my iPhone and it worked great. I don't think we would be able to return safely without it. And I am not sure that if I would not be able to follow up our progress on the map with detailed drawings of our route, I would not continue. My friend send me an e-mail about 3 people dying on Orizaba later that week. Watch out for hurricanes - locals thought this was affecting the weather, a lot of precipitation in late October on Pico de Orizaba. Be safe.