Land Costs: USD 2,700 (price does not include airfare)
10 days in September and/or October
Climbing to extreme altitudes is usually associated with months-long expeditions, windswept base camps, and hefty price tags. But our next-door neighbor, Mexico, hosts some of the world's finest high-altitude volcanoes that are attainable by climbing for mere days above town! At 18,491 feet (5,636 meters), Pico de Orizaba is the third highest mountain in all of North America, and sits over a thousand feet taller than High Camp on Denali. However, it takes us just a few days to reach the summit of this "Mountain of the Star,"after a carefully prepared regiment of acclimatization on a lower, but still lofty, summit. This is the perfect prep for Rainier, Kilimanjaro, Denali, and even peaks in the Himalaya!
Our trip to Mexico will last a mere ten days, but it will be packed with instruction and invaluable hands-on experience in the art of climbing to extreme high altitude. On Mt. Everest, it would take at least eighteen days (and countless dollars) to reach 18,000’. Orizaba, which lies in Mexico’s Volcano National Park, can be reasonably climbed in half that time. Team members need take only six days off of work (plus four weekend days) to learn how their bodies react to high altitude. Instead of spending weeks in a row tent-bound, our trip is punctuated by rest days in town, where we enjoy delicious local food, hot showers, and warm beds.
After arriving in Mexico City, we travel into the mountains via four by four, off road vehicles. This is the only reasonable way to access Mexico’s ancient high-mountain villages. Some of these adobe brick outposts are perched as high as 12,000’, which is nearly two thousand feet above the highest town in the United States. We adjust to this altitude while organizing gear and enjoying the fine amenities of hotels that cater to climbers, such as pools and hot tubs: these things would never be found at this elevation on Mt. Rainier!
The first phase of our journey to Mexico is focused on reaching an altitude that will allow us to acclimate without exhausting ourselves. We can traverse some of the area’s peaks that are less oft visited, such as the 14,640’ La Malinche, or even tackle the famous 17,434’ Izataccihuatl. The selection of this climb will be based on group feedback and weather, and it will certainly be an incredible primer in altitude climbing and camping. All of these possible summits are attainable within three days from the road.
After a full rest day in town, we return to the mountains to climb our primary objective, Orizaba. Pico de Orizaba, climbed by a number of routes depending on weather and conditions, is best done with two established camps. From high camp at 16,000’, we climb snow, rock, and ice slopes to this mythical summit. From the top of Mexico, we descend to our lower camp at 14,000’ before leaving for Mexico City - and home - the next day.
Other International Expeditions Courses: