Volcanoes of Mexico

Climb Volcanoes of Mexico With Alpine Ascents

Great experience pushing our climbing skills to the next level. Everything about the Volcanoes of Mexico climb was perfectly arranged from booking to climbing. AAI’s logistics, high altitude acclimation, guides, local knowledge and contacts, climbing safety, and team building continue to be #1.
–2020 Climber

Highlights of our Mexico Volcanoes Expedition

  • Alpine Ascents guides lead each trip.
  • There is a low climber-to-guide ratio.
  • We offer a fully inclusive trip with no hidden costs.
  • Our 10 day itinerary greatly increases chances of summit success.
  • We hand pick our local guides and transportation.
  • Cultural activities are included in the itinerary.
  • Alpine Ascents has 30 years of experience guiding in Mexico.
  • This trip provides excellent preparation for Denali. 
  • See more on our Why Climb With Us in Mexico page. 

Recent Success

We had a great 2019/2020 season with both teams reaching the summit of Ixta and Orizaba. This comes off our biggest seasons in 2017 and 2018 (100% team summit success), and we look to have Stuart Robertson and Dylan Cembalski return as leads in 2020. The Volcanoes of Mexico is one of our advanced beginner climbs at altitude, a perfect follow-up to Mt. Rainier or other Beginner Mountaineering Courses, and is particularly beneficial for those needing more experience before climbing Denali. In most cases our Mexico climbs are led by the same guides who lead our Denali expeditions.

About the Trip

In the heart of Mexico, about 800 miles south of the United States border, rise the third and seventh highest mountains in North America. El Pico de Orizaba (also known as Chitlalcotepetl, 18,491 ft.) and Iztaccihuatl (also known as Izta, 17,159 ft.) rise impressively above the central plateau. Each fall and winter we attempt to summit these two volcanoes, which are by far the most attractive climbs in Mexico. This Alpine Ascents expedition provides a fantastically rich experience for both the advanced beginner and the intermediate climber.  It also serves as an excellent preparation for climbing mountains such as Denali and is an affordable way to participate in a successful international high-altitude expedition.

The Volcanoes of Mexico expedition lasts 10 days, during which we will attempt to summit ancient peaks that date back 10 million years (while their present shape can be dated at 2.5 million years). For those interested in high-altitude challenges, this climb is an excellent opportunity to develop the experience and skills necessary to succeed on the world’s highest mountains. Successful ascents will provide the climber with a strong sense of their individual ability to handle altitude. They are also wonderful destinations in their own right.

The Mountains

Iztaccihuatl is crowned with snow and ice that forms small glaciers at higher elevations with relatively few crevasses. For our summit attempt, we will depart by 2 a.m. in order to be high on the mountain by sunrise and ensure we have extra hours at the higher elevations for a gradual and safe ascent. Izta is known in Aztec mythology as the “sleeping lady.” When we speak of Izta, we use body terms to describe parts of the mountain: la caballera (the hair), la caveza (the head), la orega (the ear), etc. With many false summits on the approach, Izta poses a challenging climb.

After completing Izta, we will take one day to rest and regroup before advancing to our second objective, El Pico de Orizaba. Orizaba is North America’s third-highest summit. It is an eroded volcano that retains most of its symmetrical shape. While the summit is heavily glaciated, these glaciers have few crevasses, allowing the beginning climber to develop skills while encountering relatively few danger spots. Because of its great height, Orizaba provides a wonderful first experience with high altitude and fantastic panoramic views.

The Legend of Popo and Izta

This traditional story is well known throughout the Puebla regions and is quite famous throughout all of Mexico. As the legend goes, while Popo (the Smoking Warrior) was at war, the emperor’s beautiful daughter, Izta, died of heartache. When he returned and learned of her death, he built two mountains. On one, he laid her body and on the other, he stood holding a funeral torch. Some days it still appears as if Itza is stretched on her back while the steam of Popo watches over her. Given its recent activity, many are reluctant to forego the romantic imagery of this great “Smoking Mountain.”

 

The climb itself was outstanding! The guides and their experience are the program’s strength!

High camp on Izta at the Otis Mcallister hut
Final push on the summit ridge of Orizaba
Looking over the Valley of Mexico and Mexico City from high camp on Izta
Alpine Ascents Mexico Volcanoes
Photo: Mario Simoes
Alpine Ascents Mexico Volcanoes
Photo: Mario Simoes
Summit ridge of Izta
Street artist in Cholula, Mexico
The Aztec calendar on display at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City
Climbers on a day hike to acclimate near Izta
High camp on Izta at the Otis Mcallister hut
Summit ridge on Izta with Popo in the background
Early morning sunrise with Orizaba castings its shadow
Looking down the summit ridge of Orizaba
Architecture in Mexico City
Mesoamerica artifacts at the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

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