In January 2005, my roommate, Marc, and I are going to try and climb El Pico de Orizaba in what will surely be a remarkable adventure. We thought it would be nice to see if anybody else in the outdoors club would like to come along!
What is El Pico de Orizaba? El Pico de Orizaba is a beautiful dormant volcano in southeast Mexico. At an awesome 18,800 feet, the glacier-capped volcano is the third highest mountain in North America. (Only Denali and Mt. Logan are taller!)
We will begin our adventure in the resort city of Veracruz which is on the Gulf of Mexico. We will then take a bus to a small village called Orizaba at the base of the mountain. (Taking time to meet the locals along the way!) We will spend a day in Orizaba acclimatizing. On the first day of the climb- we will climb nearly 6,000 vertical feet to Camp I (14,000’) This part of the hike will be on rock and will traverse deep canyons with tremendous vertical relief while passing though ancient native villages. After acclimatizing at Camp I, we will hike to Camp II and set up base camp (16,400’). At around 2:00 AM we will leave base camp and make our summit attempt using headlamps. Hopefully, we will reach the summit by dawn and watch the sunrise from nearly 19,000 feet!! Our descent will take two days if we decide to head straight down. However, near Camp II there is a huge rock spire called El Sarcofago (about 900’ tall) which may prove to be a fun rock climb! Since we’ll have a rope, I think it would be fun to spend a day top-rope climbing at 16,000 feet! After the climb, we will return to Veracruz and thaw out on the warm Mexican beach- drinking margaritas and evening out our glacier tans. A side trip to some nearby Aztec/Olmec ruins should cap off the trip nicely.
This trip will be very unique in that we will have traveled though both tropical forests and arctic environments in only a matter of days. [The total trip will likely last about a week and a half.]
This is, of course, a serious mountaineering expedition. However, the mountain isn’t very technical and is perfect for beginner mountaineers. Nevertheless, you will need to be in superb physical shape. The good news is that you will have about two months to train. The risks on this trip, as with all mountaineering expeditions, are substantive. They include:
Avalanche, rock fall, altitude sickness (Pulmonary and Cerebral edema), falling into a crevasse, falls from exposed rock, falls on ice, hypothermia, frost bite, snow-blindness, etc.
On average, 1 person dies on El Pico de Orizaba every year. However, we will take all safety precautions. This includes establishing rope teams, proper acclimatization, self arrest, and learning crevasse-rescue techniques. We will also try and be off the summit before the afternoon thunderstorms hit. [It is important to note, however, that Marc is insisting on camping on the crater-rim at the summit, we’ll see :-)]
By signing up for this now- you WILL NOT be making any commitment to go. Signing up for this adventure will only show us that you are interested in going. If you are interested, there is a lot to be done. If you sign up- I will designate a time in which all of us can meet and discuss further information about the climb. After meeting with everybody and all logistical matters are worked out, I will add you to the trip officially. If you have never been backpacking before, then don’t sign up! Also, among other things, you must be willing to endure some very uncomfortable situations- both physically and mentally.
Once again, if you have any interests at all in this trip then please sign up- for it is not an official commitment!!! Also, The dates for this trip are by no means set in stone!