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.