2009 Mexico Volcanoes Cybercast

Last night our group arrived back in Mexico City to stay in the hotel after a successful climb to the summit of Pico de Orizaba.  We elected not to establish a high camp above the hut given the weather conditions the last few days (high winds, precipitation, and clouds-fog).   So after 2 nights at the Piedra Grande hut we began the climb at 2 AM yesterday morning.  We climbed through some rain in the dark and scrambled up the scree slopes until arriving at the base of the Jamapa glacier, at which point we were above the clouds and the sun began to rise.  We roped up just before climbing onto the glacier, and then made our way up through fresh snow to reach the crater, and then to the summit at 9:15 AM.  We were lucky to have a clear view from the summit and we enjoyed ourselves for about 30 minutes before climbing back down.  After about a 4 hour descent we reached the Piedra Grande hut, then loaded back into the 4 x 4 Jeeps and drove down to Tlachicuca, where we had hot showers and a snack before making the drive to Mexico City.

A special congratulations goes out to Lynn Lippert who is one of the climbers who made the summit of Pico de Orizaba (the 3rd highest peak in North America)!  This was Lynn´s second expedition to the mountain with Alpine Ascents, it means a lot for us to share in her accomplishment given her training, focus, and perseverance to make it a success.  Way to go Lynn!

Greetings from Mexico, currently we're in beautiful & sunny Puebla enjoying our rest day in the historic downtown hotel. We are enjoying the sights in this historic Mexican city, and will be leaving shortly for a walking city tour. We arrived yesterday after a successful ascent of Izta, also known as "the sleeping lady." After two nights at the Altzomoni hut on Izta, we were about to move up to our high camp when a low pressure system moved in from the gulf, bringing winds, precipitation, and colder temperatures. We caught a glimpse of fresh snow high up on Izta before we left the hut to climb up to our high camp. We dressed accordingly in goretex and began the ascent to high camp which took us about 6 hours. We arrived the high camp (16,000') and set up a few tents and prepared our evening meal.

We awoke at the pre dawn hour of 3 AM and had a breakfast and hot drinks, then headed out at 6 AM to a beautiful full moonlit night, and climbed through new snow up to the Luis Mendez hut where we took our first break. We climbed along the appropriately named "ridge of the sun" into the daylight, and encountered a few other climbers which we passed along our way. We climbed along the ridge from the "knees" to the "belly" at the top of the Ayoloco glacier, to the El Pecho "the breast" before topping out 9 AM at 17, 126'. Conditions on the summit were excellent, we enjoyed great views of the surrounding volcanoes of Popo and Orizaba, as well as surrounding metropolitan areas. After 10 minutes on the summit we descended back down to our high camp and continued down to the trail head at La Joya, were we were met with cold beverages and fresh sandwiches to satisfy our appetites!

We then loaded up into the vans and drove to Puebla where we are currently resting and relaxing, before heading to Orizaba. Tomorrow we will drive to Tlachicuca where we will load our equipment into 4x4 Jeeps and drive up to the Piedra Grande hut. After a night camped at this hut we plan to ascend to a high camp, then go for the summit! The weather at this point looks okay, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. -Alpine Ascents Mexico team

"Ahead of our time"
The four of us are back safe and sound in Mexico City and ready to enjoy a day of sightseeing by visiting
the Museum of Anthology as well as making a trip to the Pyramids just outside of town. One of the things
I have truly enjoyed about working for Alpine Ascents is the flexibility there is even though it is a larger company.
When we were in Puebla I mentioned the option of climbing a day early if the weather conditions were good
and people were feeling well and we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

I told them it was actually Their decision as this was Their trip! At breakfast just before we left Puebla
they all told me that they had decided they want to do the climb in one day from the hut and then spend
the extra day at the end of the trip visiting the sites around Mexico.

We got really lucky on this one........

As one of our climbers told me "everything has worked just like clockwork so far on this trip"- Thanks Curtis.
On Friday after lunch at Senor Reye's place we did some last minute shopping and organizing of our gear.
We then loaded the 4X4 Army green Dodge Power Wagon and made the 2.5 hour trip to the "Pieria Grande
Hut". We had some great Mexican food (There seems to be a theme here) tacos with chicken, veggies', cheese
and those good old refried beans. We hit the sack early at about 6:30 PM and woke up at 12:30 AM. These
guys were really ready to climb this mountain and keep turning their headlamps on before I had waken them.
I just pretend to be asleep and was trying to hold us back because I didn't want to be to high on the mountain
in the cold to early before the sun was up.

Lighting in the distance, were walking in the clouds, what's going on here???

We just sat there on the Jalapa glacier 30 minutes before it was going to get light out and an hour before the
sun would rise over the Atlantic Ocean to the East and the Veracruz Coast. I just wasn't sure if we were going
to get "Zapped" by this storm moving in towards the mountain. So far it had all stayed far away from us but
now we had become a part OF IT! I didn't want to move up into it and in the dark. We took a 20-25 minute
break here at 16,000 Feet and sat on our packs with our heavy down coats on....waiting. Some one watching
us from below later told us "we were there a long time" , "What were you guys doing?" answer...Waiting, we
had to see if we were going to be able to move higher on the mountain or quickly make our way back down to
avoid the nearby electricity.

It got better, we moved higher, I kicked a lot of steps in the clean, crisp, morning snow , we were all very tired
I was out of breath digging a platform for us to sit on on the step slope below the crater. Jeff asked me if he could
sit down on his pack at our next break I said, "The break is over". Jims crampon came off just after the break
and Jeff gave gave him a had putting it back on. I didn't want to give these guys any slack (in the rope that is)
as this is near the steepest part of the entire ascent. We took a long recovery break - we all needed - on top of the
crater. "From here it is just under and hour to the top guys" I told them. We could just call it good here. Jim spoke
up and said "Not after we have come this far". It was just a matter of time from here. The weather remained good
but there were huge Cumulous clouds all around us as we made our final steps (very slow, baby steps) to the summit
of Pico de Orizaba North Americas third highest peak.

Going down....."The Curtain Closed"

We ended up in a total whiteout on the descent, more hail then I have ever seen, Glad I put in those wands. Then
it rained and rained all the way back to Mexico City. I have rarely seen it rain so much here except out near the
ocean. It is better here this morning but we can still see the big clouds in the distance and we are so happy WE
made the decision to climb a day a head (LOL).

Craig Van Hoy- In Mexico City

The four of us are doing well here relaxing at the Puebla Marriott. It is hard to believe we were standing on the summit of "Izta"
just over 24 hour ago. Jeff was unfortunately prevented from going all the way to the hut at 15,000 because of altitude
problems but is doing much better now and is in good sprits and resting to make our next climb. We actually beat the sun
to the top and watched a beautiful sunrise with are next climbing objective in the foreground, "Pico de Orizaba" . One of
the real exciting things about climb ""Izta" over the past years has been to watch "Popo" blow off some steam and we were
treated to some big "plums" of varying shapes and sizes during our four days there.

Today we will be touring Puebla seeing interesting sites downtown, old ruins,  as well as spending some quality time- "poolside".
It is going to be another sunny day here in Mexico- "wish you were here!

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