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Volcanoes of Mexico Climbing School

9 Days in Mexico / (Skill level: Introductory)

Price per person

$2,750
  • Next Available: Nov 21, 2020 - Nov 29, 2020
  • Upcoming: Dec 05, 2020 - Dec 13, 2020
  • Dec 11, 2021 - Dec 19, 2021

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 while increasing 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.

The Perfect Intro or Refresher Expedition

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. Seasoned climbers shouldn’t discount this trip though – 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!

First Peak: Iztaccihuatl

While learning skills in the Mexican volcanoes school, our classroom will be in the field while attempting 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.

Primary Objective: Orizaba

From Puebla we head to our second objective, Orizaba, where you will utilize the more technical skills learned on Ixta. 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.

Certified Guides

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 — Leave your home for Mexico, arriving into Mexico City by mid-afternoon (7,300 feet/2,225 meters)

      Most flights leave in the morning from major US hubs. Your guide will meet you at your airport and you’ll transfer to your hotel. After a quick stop at our hotel, we tour the city’s historic district, taking in the colonial architecture and beginning our process of acclimatization.

    • Day 2 — Drive to Altzomoni hut on Iztaccihuatl (13,000 feet/3,060 meters)

      We 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, Iztaccihuatl.

    • Day 3 — Acclimatization hike and skills day

      Today we take an acclimatization hike through the incredible pine forests that surround the base of Ixta, 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 on Ixta (15,000 feet/4,572 meters)

      Today we move to a high camp at around 15,000 feet. Our packs will be heavy and the air thin, so we will move slowly, taking plenty 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 mountain travel skills.

    • Day 5 — Summit day on Iztaccihuatl (17,160 feet/ 5,230 meters)

      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 (8,140 feet/2,489 meters).

    • Day 6 — Drive to Puebla (7,000 feet/2,134 meters)

      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 from Puebla to camp near the Piedra Grande hut* (14,000 feet/4,267 meters)

      On the flanks of Orizaba, a camp near the Piedra Grande Hut serves as our home base for our final climb. We eat an early dinner, discuss our impending climb, organize our summit packs, and get to bed. *Unfortunately the Piedra Grande is in a state of disrepair. We’ve made the decision to camp to increase our comfort before summit day.

    • Day 8 — Summit day on Orizaba (18,491 feet/ 5,636 meters)

      Today is the day where your fitness 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. 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 — Depart for home

      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.

      • Headwear and Eyewear

      • Hat

        Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim - the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding. Recommended: Alpenglow 5-Panel

        $25.00
      • Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer First Ascent Beanie

      • Neck Gaiter (Buff)

        A multi purpose neck gator that can also be worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet is still comfy. Recommended: Alpenglow Expeditions Buff

      • Balaclava

        We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible, but is comfortable enough to wear for hours. Recommended: Patagonia Balaclava

      • 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 is very useful (Chums or Croakies). Recommended: Revoi Guide II

      • Goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are desired. Recommended: Smith I/O

      • Hands and Feet

      • Lightweight Gloves

        All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Mountain Glove

      • Midweight Gloves

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be your main glove for the trip until summit days, or when it gets especially cold. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Glove

      • Heavyweight Gloves

        These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). These gloves are used at higher altitude and are need to keep your hands dry, and warm. Over the cuff style is desired. Recommended: Black Diamond Guide Glove

      • Liner Socks (optional)

        A super-thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon, or Capilene®. NO COTTON. Recommended: Ice Breaker Hike Liner Crew

      • Hiking Socks

        Your everyday sock, good for day hikes, trekking, and in- town. NO COTTON. Recommended: Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew Socks

      • Warm Socks

        A wool synthetic blend. Pure rag wool socks are not nearly as effective in wicking moisture or retaining their shape and reducing blisters. NO COTTON. Recommended: Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks

      • Hiking Shoes

        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. Recommended: La Sportiva Bushido Hiking Shoes

      • Mountaineering Boots (5,000m-6,000m)

        Should be warm single or double boots that 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. Recommended: La Sportiva G5 Boots

      • Waterproof Gaiters

        GORE-TEX® or Schoeller® calf- high gaiters, insulated supergaiters recommended. *Gaiters not needed if your pants and/or boots have built-in gaiters. Recommended: Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodile Gaiters (required if your boots do not have integrated gaiters)

      • Upper Body Apparel

      • Lightweight Top

        Ultra-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. The new wool blends are also an option. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

      • Long Sleeve Base Layer

        A poly-pro mid-layer that you will never take off. Fitted, light- weight and quick drying. Make sure it is long enough to tuck-in and we recommend zipper collars for more ventilation. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Resolution IR 1/4 Zip

      • Warm Layer

        A polarguard or fleece jacket. This is your mid layer that will be worn over your baselayer most of the trip. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip or Patagonia R1 Jacket

      • Synthetic Top

        A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems and the Primaloft keeps you warm when wet. Recommended: Eddie Bauer IgniteLite Stretch Reversible

      • Hard Shell 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. Recommended: Eddie Bauer BC Freshline Jacket

      • Soft Shell 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. A windshirt is an option for this layer. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Sandstone

      • Down Parka (5-6k Peaks)

        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. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Downlight Hooded Jacket

      • Lower Body Apparel

      • Base Layer Bottoms

        Fitted and quick drying. This piece will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Midweight FreeDry Merino Hybrid Baselayer Pants

      • Soft Shell Pants

        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. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Alpine

      • Hard Shell Pants

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets. Recommended: Black Diamond Sharp End Pants

      • Insulated Pants (optional)

        Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers. This layer is required. Recommended: Black Diamond Stance Belay Pants

      • Expedition Equipment

      • Duffle Bags

        2 Duffle Bags - At least one bag should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big - between 90L and 120L. 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. Two duffel bags are necessary to fit all your equipment for travel (we don't recommend checking your backpack, best is to put all gear and backpack into your duffle). Once in country, you can consolidate your gear into one duffel and your backpack. It's common to leave the second duffel with city clothes and other non-necessary items behind in a locked and secure location that your guide will arrange for you. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Maximus Duffel

      • Sleeping Bag (0°)

        Rated to 0º 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: Eddie Bauer Kara Koram with Compression Sack

      • Inflatable Sleeping Pad

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

      • Day Pack

        Mid-size pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters). Recommended: Eddie Bauer Bacon 2.0 Pack

      • Climbing Pack

        Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners. Make sure the pack is fitted to YOUR body. Recommended: Eddie Bauer Alpine Sisu 50L Pack or Black Diamond Mission 50 Pack

      • Hydration System (optional)

        Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube

      • Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp. Recommended: Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

      • Trekking Pole(s)

        Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable. Recommended: Black Diamond Trail Explorer 3 Trekking Poles

      • 1L Nalgene (2)

        Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles. Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth

      • Compressible 1-1.5L Bottle

        Wide mouth compressible 1-1.5 liter bottle. Recommended: Nalgene Flexible Cantene

      • Plastic Bowl, Mug and Spoon

        A lightweight and compact cookware setup. You'll want a plastic bowl, mug and spoon. Recommended Kit: MSR 2 Person Mess Kit

      • Coffee

        While Alpenglow provides hot drink options every morning, it can be nice to have your own on hand any time you need a boost. With hot water always readily available, having instant coffee packets can give you the energy you need after a long day in the mountains! Recommended: Alpine Start Original Blend Instant Coffee

      • Technical Equipment

      • General Mountaineering Axe

        One non-technical climbing axe. The tool should be approx. 55cm- 65cm long and comfortable to hold. Recommended: Petzl Summit

      • Mountaineering Crampons

        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. Recommended: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons

      • 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. Recommended: Petzl Meteor Helmet

      • Harness

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

      • Locking Carabiner (2)

        Lightweight small carabiners are best. Recommended: Petzl Attache

      • Non-Locking Carabiner (2)

        Lightweight small carabiners are best, wire-gates are fine. Recommended: Petzl Spirit

      • Prusik Cord

        20’ of 6mm. This will be used to make prusiks. This cord should be uncut and not kevlar. Recommended: Sterling Ropes

      • Belay Device

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

      • Miscellaneous Items

      • Miscellaneous Items

        -Passport (with visa, if necessary

        -2 luggage locks (TSA compliant)

        -Non-cotton underwear

        -Wag bags, 1 per night camping as to leave no trace

        -Heavy duty garbage bags (at least 4)

        -Stuffsacks: assorted sizes, for organizing your clothes and gear

        -Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher)

        -Lip balm with SPF 15 (or higher)

        -Personal first-aid kit (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Imodium, Personal Medications)

        -Toiletries

        -3-4lbs of Snack food (a variety of snack food, some whole food, some bars, some gels)

        -Hand Warmers

      • In Town Items

        - External Battery Packs for phones, and other electronics. Recommended: Anker PowerCore Speed 10000.

        - Ear Plugs

        - Journal/Cards/Games for personal entertainment

        - Language Phrase Book

        - Camera - Full size DSLRs not recommended as your summit camera.  Sony RX100 is a guide’s favorite. Remember extra SD cards and batteries.

        - Compact Binoculars

        - Sandals (Flip-Flops, Chacos or Tevas)

      • Packing Note

        For your international flights we recommend that you pack all of your equipment in your two duffle bags. Do not simply pack your backpack (since its straps can be damaged by baggage handling machines). It is important to lock these bags for their trip. Depending on airport, you may be able to put your travel locks on after they have been searched. If not, lock the bag with zip ties. If the TSA cuts off the zip tie to search your bag, they will replace it. You will still need travel locks to lock your bags in the hotel and in Basecamp. Generally, you will take one duffle to Basecamp, and leave one in the hotel with your belongings for town.

    • 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 trip insurance, and we require rescue insurance on all expeditions. 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 Global Rescue for both types of insurance .

    • What is your cancellation policy?

      • We reserve the right to cancel any trip at any time. Reasons for cancellation might include (but are not limited to) political instability, natural disasters, or inadequate enrollment. If we cancel a trip prior to its start for low enrollment, we fully refund your payments. If we cancel your trip prior to its start due to political instability, natural disasters, or other reasons of that nature, we will refund all but non-recoverable costs. Changes to a trip itinerary made by our guides for any reason do not constitute a cancellation, and no refunds will be made in this case.
      • If you cancel your trip more than 90 days prior to departure, Alpenglow Expeditions will refund your payment minus the non-refundable deposit. 60-89 days prior, Alpenglow Expeditions will refund 50% of your payment. Fewer than 60 days prior, there are no refunds or credits.
      • On any trip, our guides reserve the right to remove any person, for any reason. These reasons generally stem from a person jeopardizing the safety of themselves or another team member. This includes a person who is not physically able to climb at the level necessary for the chosen route. In all these cases, there are no refunds whatsoever, and the client will be responsible for any additional costs incurred in leaving the trip.

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 Ski Guide and Assistant Rock and Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

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    Volcanoes of Mexico Climbing School

Volcanoes of Mexico Climbing School

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.