Volcanoes of Mexico Climbing School

9 Days in Mexico / (Skill level: Introductory)

Price per person

$2,750.00

About this trip

Attain the basic skills of mountaineering with a focus on safety and education in just one week. The volcanoes climbed on this trip are achievements in their own right, but also act as excellent preparation for intermediate level expeditions like Aconcagua. Climb in small teams, with a maximum climber to guide ratio of 3:1.

Overview

  • skill level

    Introductory

  • Duration

    9 Days

Alpenglow’s Mexican Volcanoes Climbing School is perfect for those who want to learn about climbing high altitude glaciated peaks and increase their self-sufficiency in the mountains, but just can’t take 2-3 weeks off to travel to South America or the Himalaya. Mexico is one of the only places in the world where we can gain skills and summit peaks in just one week. For the aspiring climber with no glacier experience, the Mexican volcanos school offer moderate glaciated routes at altitudes which can be attained with only a few days of acclimatization. But this expedition is also for the more experienced climber looking to refresh and dial in methods for glacier travel, crevasse rescue, and rope systems. Regardless of whether or where you have climbed in the past, this weeklong whirlwind climbing trip will satisfy your need to get to the big mountains again, and will build your technical skills and experience. It is an excellent introductory or refresher course with a focus on education, and a way to sneak some mountaineering into a busy life schedule!

While learning skills in the Mexican volcanoes school, our classroom will be in the field, as we attempt two peaks during this trip. After a quick exploration of Mexico City and the surrounding highlands, we head to Iztaccihuatl. At 17,154 feet (5,229 meters), Ixta (as it is locally known) is Mexico’s third highest peak. It is the perfect mountain to acclimatize on, and while not highly technical, will provide an ideal opportunity to get used to traveling on rope teams and in crampons and is a beautiful route and summit. The view from the summit takes in all of the volcanoes of Mexico, including nearby Popo, which is currently erupting! On Ixta, we will ensure that everyone’s mountain skills are up to speed so that you are an able to be an active participant on the climbing and decision-making team.

We then spend a day of rest and recovery in the traditional highland town of Puebla. The day will pass quickly exploring the local’s market, buying souvenirs, and eating the excellent Mexican cuisine.

From Puebla we head to our second objective, Orizaba, where you will utilize the more technical skills learned on Iztaccihuatl. As Mexico’s tallest peak and the third highest in North America. Its summit sits at 18,410 feet (5,611 meters) and is heavily glaciated. We will be technically and mentally prepared, as well as well-acclimatized and rested for our summit push, which is comparable to summit days on many of the world’s biggest peaks. The climb of over 4,000 vertical feet (1,020 meters) on crevassed glacier and steep slopes will test all of the training you have done throughout the week. A summit of Orizaba and the skills you’ve learned to get there are excellent preparation for expeditions to mountains like Denali, Aconcagua, or Huascaran, as well as an achievement in its own right.

Our Mexico school will be guided by one or more of Alpenglow Expeditions’ AMGA certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our guides have also traveled and climbed extensively in North and South America. Their knowledge of the mountains, combined with their passion for teaching others to become competent mountaineers, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember and you’ll leave with many more skills to help you progress through the ranks of the big mountains of the world! In contrast to many guide services working in Mexico, we climb in small teams, with a maximum climber to guide ratio of 3:1. This helps ensure that you understand the systems you learn about, stay healthy and strong, and are able to enjoy each component of your experience.

Preparation

  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

  • Technical Experience

    No technical climbing experience required.

  • Altitude Experience

    No prior experience at altitude required.

    • Day 1 — Arrival

      Leave your home for Mexico, arriving into Mexico City by mid-afternoon (Saturday). After a stop at our hotel, we tour the city’s historic district, taking in the colonial architecture and beginning our process of acclimatization (7,300 feet/2,225 meters).

    • Day 2 — Drive to Altzomoni Hut

      Travel by 4WD Landcruisers to the town of Amecameca, in the Mexican highlands. This traditional town is famous for its market, and we take time to explore and have lunch before continuing our drive. Spend the night in the Altzomoni Hut (13,000 feet, 3,060meters) on the flanks of our first objective, Ixtaccihuatl.

    • Day 3 — Acclimatization hike

      Today we take an acclimatization hike through the incredible pine forests that surround the base of Ixta (17,154 feet/5,229 meters), our first mountaineering objective. We also spend time today going over roped glacier travel, and familiarizing ourselves with crampons and axes.

    • Day 4 — Move to High Camp

      Today we move to a high camp at around 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). Our packs will be heavy and the air thin, so we will move slowly, taking lots of time to appreciate the incredible views as we climb out of the forests into the high alpine region of the mountain, all the while, continuing to practice our newfound skills.

    • Day 5 — Summit Day

      Wake up around 3 am for our summit push. After a quick breakfast and hot drink we begin our climb, up steep moraines to the edge of the glacier. After roping up and putting on crampons, we continue up the glacier, navigating occasional crevasses before it steepens into a final summit couloir. A final push puts us on top, where we have incredible views of all of the Mexican highlands. A long descent and quick drive will get us to much deserved showers, beds, and a celebration dinner in Amecameca.

    • Day 6 — Drive to Puebla

      After a relaxing morning and big breakfast, we leave our hotel for the village of Puebla. The drive is incredible and gives us a good sense of the people of the highlands and how they live. Puebla sits at 7,000 feet (2,134 meters), and is a great place to recover fully in preparation for Orizaba. It is also the place to buy souvenirs for everyone at home!

    • Day 7 — Drive to Piedra Grande Hut

      Drive from Puebla to the Piedra Grande hut, which sits at 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) on the flanks of Orizaba. We eat an early dinner, discuss our impending climb, organize our summit packs, and get to bed.

    • Day 8 — Summit Day on Orizaba

      Today is the day where your training at home, your climb of Ixta, and your new skills really pay off. We wake soon after midnight and begin our climb to Orizaba’s summit (18,410 feet/5,611 meters). Moderate glacier climbing takes us around a rock band and over crevassed terrain before reaching the crater rim. From there we climb the ridge of the crater to the true summit. Our view will stretch from all of Mexico’s volcanoes on one side to the Gulf of Mexico on the other! We then descend back to the hut and drive to Puebla to celebrate our climb and spend the night.

    • Day 9 — Departure

      Wake early in the morning to drive back to Mexico City. Depart Mexico City for your flight home. Flights should not leave before 2pm from Mexico City. (Sunday)

      • Head

      • Marmot PreCip Baseball Hat

        A great hat to help keep the sun out of your eyes and keep you cool on warm days.

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      • Kaenon Klay sunglasses

        Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap recommended (Chums or Croakies).

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      • Smith I/O goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses that are appropriate for bright and low-light conditions. Ventilation and anti-fog features are recommended.

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      • SmartWool Balaclava

        We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet still comfy.

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      • Patagonia Lined Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that your beanie fits under a helmet. We also recommend the Marmot Summit Hat.

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      • Hands

      • Marmot Windstopper glove

        You will rarely take these gloves off.  They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm.

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      • Black Diamond guide glove

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). The warmer the liner the better.

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      • Equipment

      • Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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      • Black Diamond HotWire Carabiner

        Lightweight, non-locking carabiner.

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      • Black Diamond VaporLock Screwgate Carabiner

        Lightweight, locking carabiner.

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      • Black Diamond ATC-XP belay device

        Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes.

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      • Black Diamond Raven Ultra ice axe

        Non-technical ice tool, 50-60 cm long. Make sure axe has a comfortable hold, and is lightweight.

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      • Nalgene 1 liter water bottle

        Two Lexan 1 liter, wide mouth bottles.

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      • Black Diamond Trekking Poles

        Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable. You must have at least one, but we recommend 2.

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      • Black Diamond Serac crampon

        Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. * crampons are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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      • Petzl Sitta harness

        Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable or stretchable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. *Harnesses are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

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      • Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required.. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp.

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      • Marmot Col sleeping bag

        Rated to -20º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. Recommended: Granite Gear Compression Sack.

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      • Therm-a-rest NeoAir Therm sleeping pad

        72 inch long inflatable pad required. Make sure you also purchase and bring a repair kit + bag for the sleeping pad.

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      • Marmot Long Hauler Duffel

        These bags should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big! You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying.

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      • Black Diamond Speed 50 pack

        Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. This pack should be comfortable, lightweight and fitted to your body.

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      • Black Diamond Bullet pack

        A small pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters). This pack is also great to use for your carry on luggage.

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      • Feet

      • LaSportiva Batura

        Boots should have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8th of an inch when walking.

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      • LaSportiva Bushido hiking shoe

        These light to mid-weight shoes are for every day use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow. High top hiking boots are heavy and unnecessary.

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      • Darn Tough 1/4 cushion hiking sock

        These are your every day sock, good for day hikes, trekking and town days.

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      • Darn Tough Cushion boot sock

        Your go-to mountain sock. It is very important to dial in your boot/ sock combo, as everyone will have a slightly different fit in their boots. Merino wool has become a guides favorite, and we have found these socks to be a solid performer.  NO COTTON.

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      • Upper Body

      • Icebreaker long sleeve Top

        A merino or poly-pro base layer that you will wear often. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying.

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      • Marmot Greenland Jacket

        A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight.

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      • Marmot Minimalist Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. PacLite® is preferred for lightweight.

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      • Marmot ROM softshell jacket

        While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation.

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      • Patagonia Nanopuff jacket

        Warmer than your expedition weight top, but not as extreme as your big puffy jacket. Full zip is recommended.

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      • Patagonia R1 hoody

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will wear often. Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation.

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      • Patagonia tropic comfort hoody

        This lite weight hoody has become a guide favorite for almost every day spent in the mountains. This layer can be worn on hot or cold days, and shields you from the sun during long hours spent outside.

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      • Icebreaker Tech Lite shirt

        Light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days.  We have found that merino wool is the superior material for base layers, as they regulate body temperature very well, and are extremely odor resistant.

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      • Lower Body

      • Arc'teryx Atom LT insulated pants

        Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers.

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      • Marmot Minimalist Pant

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets.

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      • Marmot Scree Pant

        You will spend most of your days in these pants. Choose Schoeller® or a soft-shell equivalent. Breathable + water-resistant. These pants should have an ankle zip so they will accommodate your mountain boot.

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      • Patagonia expedition weight bottoms

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. The mid-weight will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures.

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      • Patagonia Shorts

        Throw these on under other layers for when the sun begins to beat, or you have a sudden urge to jump in a glacial lake. Lightweight, durable and comfortable. NO COTTON.

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      • Icebreaker long underwear

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. This base-layer will get you through a wide range of temperatures. NO COTTON.

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    • Would you consider organizing a custom expedition to Mexico?

      We love putting together custom expeditions. This provides more flexibility for you and provides the best overall expedition experience.

    • Do I have enough experience for this trip?

      Yes! The Mexico Climbing School is an entry level program, designed to teach you all the skills you need to begin your mountain climbing career. While you do need excellent general fitness, no climbing experience is necessary.

    • Will this trip give me the necessary experience to climb bigger, more challenging peaks?

      Yes! The primary goal of our climbing schools is to give our guests the needed skills and experience to tackle bigger objectives all over the world.

    • What is the longest day I can expect?

      Your longest, most difficult day will be summit days. We wake very early in the morning, using headlamps and warm layers. Climbing steadily through the night, we find ourselves high in the peak when the sun rises. After gaining the summit, we descend all the way back to base camp. You can expect between 12 and 15 hours of steady movement.

    • Do I really need to buy trip and rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing both types of insurance. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. Rescue insurance can help cover costs in the event that you decide to end your expedition early. We recommend purchasing Travel Guard and Global Rescue. You can find links to both of these insurance companies by heading over to our Partners page.

Armando Dattoli

Mountain Guide

Armando was born in 1968 and began climbing at the age of 16. From then on, nature, adventure, and wall climbing have been his passions. His conquests range from the Alps to the Andes and the big walls of North America and the Karakorum. He was part of the Spanish Expedition to K2 led by Araceli Segarra. He has made two attempts on Trango Tower in Pakistan and has climbed El Capitan five times. Armando has been guiding the Mexican volcanoes since 1992. He completed his professional thesis in alpine equipment, obtaining a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is the Rock Climbing Advisor of Federacion Mexicana de Deportes de Montaña y Escalada. With all that adventure, he still drives his car slower than his grandmother….

Zeb Blais

From bushwhacking miles of Manzanita in ski boots to traversing huge glaciers in exotic ranges, adventure draws Zeb in. Originally from Vermont, Zeb has been hooked on big mountains since his first ski tour in Jackson Hole and has pursued skiing, climbing and exploring ever since. Zeb has climbed and guided in the Himalaya, Alaska, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Asia among others and he’s working hard to keep that list growing. Working as a mountain guide allows Zeb to share his passion for human powered movement in the mountains and to pass along what he’s learned along the way.

Zeb has successfully guided Mt Everest [29,029′], Mt Cho Oyu [26,906′] including a ski descent from the summit, Lobuche East [20,075′],  and four expeditions on Denali [20,320’], including a ski descent from the summit. He has completed 64 summits of Mount Rainier [14,410’]. Additional credentials include 12 summits of Mount Shasta [14,179’]; 5 summits of Mount Shuksan [9,100’]; 3 summits via Mount Baker [10,678’], including one ski descent from the summit, and two ski descents via the North Ridge; 2 summits of Aconcagua [22,841’]; 1 summit of Cotopaxi and 1 summit of Cayabme; 2 summits of Ixtacihuatl in Mexico; 3 summits of Orizaba in Mexico, including a ski descent from the summit; and numerous rock, alpine and ski summits from the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Coast ranges and Rockies.

Zeb is an AMGA certified ski guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

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    Volcanoes of Mexico Climbing School