Friends, family, loved ones, Stuart here from Mexico Team #2. 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.
Two days ago, now, I’m pleased to report 11 members of the team summited Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest peak and third highest peak in North America (18,405 ft). We left our private base camp just a little below the Piedra Grande hut (just under 14,000 feet) just before 2 a.m. 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 and donned some crampons. We were able to ascend 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 six 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 and La Malinchi to the west. And to the east, we had the sea of clouds coming in from the Gulf of Mexico. The strongest impression I got from the summit and climbing the mountain in general was one of isolation, solitude. When 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 Tim and Mark, our two team members who prudently elected to stay in camp after struggling with the altitude a little more than most on Izta. We all missed you up there and all know you both gave it your all on Izta.
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 traveled 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 ft) 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, good 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. Thanks Dylan, Arnoldo, Alex, Carlos and Gibran for all your help. It’s been a pleasure to guide down here once again and wish Dylan all my best on his upcoming trip at the end of the year