100% success on El Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl

Friends, family, loved ones, Stuart here from the  Mexico Volcanoes Team.  It seems that my last cybercast did not go through, so just wanted to give you all a recap of events and conclude the cybercasts for this expedition.  I’m sure now all the climbers are safely back in the United States, albeit a little tired from our adventures and travels.  A little less than a week ago now, I’m pleased to report, the whole team summited Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest peak and third highest peak in North America (18,405 feet).  We left our base camp at the Piedra Grande hut (which is just a little under 14,000 feet) just before 2 am in the morning and we worked our way up, steadily and conservatively, through a series of gullies at the base of the eastern cliffs of the Sarcophago to the base of the Jamapa Glacier.  Here we roped up, donned some crampons, we were able to ascend fairly directly, occasionally switching back towards El Espolon de Oro, the Ridge of the Gold.  This was to make the climbing a little bit easier but also to avoid some wind-scoured, icy snow patches, which has unfortunately been the scene of some recent accidents.  After about seven hours, we reached the Aguja de Hielo, the Ice Needle, it’s a prominent landmark up by the summit crater and from here we worked our way up the crater rim to the summit.
It was beautiful up there!  We were rewarded with fantastic views of Popocatapetl, Iztaccihuatl, our first objective, La Malinchi to the west.  And to the east, we had the sea of clouds coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, couldn’t see the Gulf itself but some beautiful clouds.  The strongest impression I got from the summit and climbing the mountain in general and Pico De Orizaba was one of isolation, solitude.  We’re looking down on the plains below us; there was very little sign of man’s influence on the environment, which was completely different character to Itza, our first objective, which of course lies between two of Mexico’s largest urban conurbations, Pueblo and Mexico City itself.
After summiting, we descended back down, met up with Joaquin Cancholla , who had his 4×4 Jeeps there to meet us and take us back down to Tlachichuca and the Canchollas compound, where we had a welcome celebration dinner.
Just want to give a special mention here to Alex, one of our climbers.  When I used the sat phone on the summit Alex was working his way up with Oso one on one at a little slower pace than the main group. He made it in good style  which is a testament to that gentleman’s quiet determination and tenacity…. I knew you could.
Lastly, I just want to say, as ever, I found the Mexicans that we interacted with to be honest, hardworking, more than hospitable and eager to make us at home and see their culture.  Everywhere that we travelled was safe, and this trip is a fantastic trip for anyone who has perhaps climbed Rainier or Baker or done a mountaineering skills course with us, and is looking for new challenges.  You get up to climb at high altitude (above 18,400 feet) with a minimum of expense and time, and you get a glimpse of a fascinating culture while you’re here. Again a great trip down here, 100% success on each mountain, success not just in terms of the summit but being part of a safe, environmentally sound expedition and having a fun experience.
Thanks everybody for tuning in.  It’s been a pleasure to guide down here once again.

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