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Mountaineering in Mexico: Climbing Pico de Orizaba

A photo taken from the bottom of the glacier looking toward the summit of Pico de Orizaba beneath a blue morning sky.

The Volcanoes of Mexico expedition offers a challenging and visually stunning adventure for beginner climbers looking to make their first push into high-altitude mountaineering. This expedition focuses on two of Mexico’s most iconic volcanoes: Iztaccíhuatl (17,154’/5,229m) and Pico de Orizaba (18,410’/5,611m).

Climb Iztaccíhuatl

Our adventure begins with climbers arriving in Mexico City and meeting the expedition team. This first day includes gear checks and a detailed briefing to prepare for the climbs. The next day, we camp around 13,000′ at La Joya on Iztaccíhuatl. An acclimatization hike helps us adjust to the altitude.

On the third day, we’ll do another acclimation hike and a skills day on the glacier. On Day 4, we’ll move to high camp and rest for a few hours before an early morning start on Day 5 to reach the top. The climb includes steep, rocky terrain before stepping onto the glacier. The route finishes by climbing a tight couloir to the top.

Climb Pico de Orizaba

After summiting Iztaccíhuatl, we’ll make a long descent to the base where we’ll take a short drive to Amecameca for well-deserved rest and recovery. From there, we’ll depart and spend day 6 in Puebla before heading up to base camp on Orizaba on day 7. On the morning of Day 8, we’ll summit Orizaba and descend back to Puebla. On day 9 we’ll depart for Mexico City and fly home.

A climber ascends a snowy glacier with mountains in the background on Pico de Orizaba.

This expedition is designed for beginners. However, while no climbing experience is required, we strongly recommend maintaining a high level of fitness leading up to the expedition as well as gaining some experience at altitudes at or above 14,000′.

Curious to learn more about mountaineering in Mexico? Click HERE to read “The Star Mountain,” an in-depth account of climbing Pico de Orizaba from Alpenglow staff member Robert Kyte.


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