Great climb, long 12 hour day. but the summit was sunny and warm. we had a great day.
See: www.theronewelch.com for a detailed description.
but try to get the beer can hut.. we were rudely kept awake by other climbers on our first night there in the big hut. So sleep was difficult.
also, pay respect to those passed away on the moutain at the side of the beer can hut in a memorial area.
After learning a little altitude lesson on Izta. All of us who attempted Orizaba were successful (3 out of 3). This was a much more enjoyable mountain for myself, because it allowed you to use some mountaineering skills. The route was straight forward, although long, not to steep, & had no real crevasse danger. Good fun! Just remember to bring some dry clothes along for the ride back to Tlachichuca. We used Sr. Reyes back then, & thought he was quite expensive for his services rendered. Maybe now he has some competition, & we'll have an alternative to high prices! Let me know?
With 3 friends, we summited with perfect weather conditions. During our stay, we notice the weather is clear until 12, often cloudy during the afternoon, stormy on the evening. We don't see anybody during the 2 days on Orizaba, that's really wonderful to have such mountain alone.
We leave the hut (normal route by Piedra Grande) at 2, reach the summit at 8. The route from the hut is clearly indicated by cairns and signs on the left bank of the lava flow.
About the track for Piedra Grande, all prices I've seen to go from Tlachichuca are really huge (35 to 50 USD per person ?), we go with our rental car (Chevrolet Chevy or Opel Corsa in Europe) to the hut, loaded with 4 persons and 6 rucksack. The track was dry, ok, but it was not very difficult. Enjoy the trip !
Started as a party of three. Reached the summit on my own. On the lower portion of the glacier (at about 4.900m) I turned right and headed for fhe saddle south of the Sarcofago. It was still dark so I missed the existing track. When the slope became steeper and steeper I started to feel unsafe. After a short break I turned left still climbing up. In the early morning light I fortunately crossed the track. At 8 o'clock am I was on the summit. On my way up I enjoyed an impressing sunrise. My highest peak at that time.
After summiting Ixta two days eariler I was anxious to attempt Orizaba. After reaching the glacier we turned to the right and ascended a very direct line to just below the summit. Mostly a 30 to 35 degree slope with the upper section getting fairly steep. Maybe a 50 to 55 degree climb. Set protection on the upper part. Descended the normal route.
I started my bid for the summit at 3:32am on December 13. There were a dozen or so other people heading for the summit that day. They all left earlier that morning -- some as early as 1am.
The first couple thousand feet of the climb is on a rough trail. The trail is well-marked, and it would be pretty tough to get lost. At around 15,600 ft, I reached the "Tongue." I've read that this part of the climb is often hard ice and is the technical crux of the entire route. However, when I was there, the snow conditions were perfect and the tongue was just a simple 40 degree snowfield. At the top of the tongue is the Jamapa glacier. I didn't see any crevasses, and the route was very straight-forward. When I reached the glacier at a little after 5am, I turned off my headlamp. The sun hadn't started to come up yet, but there was a bright quarter-moon to light the way. I steadily made my way up the glacier to about 17,500 ft where the glacier steepened to about 40 degrees. Before I knew it, I was at the crater. An easy snow covered ridge led to the summit (18,405 ft). The whole ascent took me 3 hours and 26 minutes. As I reached the top, the sun came up, and the mountain cast a huge triangular shadow on the ground and clouds to the west. After about 15 minutes on the summit, I headed down. The descent took about an hour and forty-five minutes, and I was back at Piedra Grande by 9am.