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Tips/Inquiries for Orizaba


Original Post
Ccmtneer · · Seattle, WA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 40

Planning a mid/late December Orizaba trip, and have a few questions for those with experience on the mountain!

1) In general, is mid to late December a safe bet on conditions?  I understand bare ice can be an issue on the mountain in the early/late season.  Figuring carrying a couple screws for a running belay in case of significant bare glacial ice might be useful (if it feels sketchy).

2) Acclimatization period for sea-levelers.  Is 7 days enough time for us sea-levelers to acclimatize adequately for Orizaba?  If its worth anything, none of us have ever experienced any significant AMS symptoms on 2-3 days Rainier climbs.  Figured try to sleep in Puebla for a night, sleep at base of La Malinche for a night (10000), hike La Malinche (14600), then make our way to Tlachichuca for a night, then spend a couple days at the Piedra Grande hut for a couple days and hike a bit before a summit attempt.  

3) Worth bringing skis?  Crevasse danger looks minimal but possibly increasing due to warming?

Any other tips for Orizaba would be highly welcome and appreciated!

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 7,505

A good sharp ax and crampons, along with some experience and skills should get you there and back in two days if fit.

Cory Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 882

You won't need screws or a rope. Things will be fine in December, that is peak season there will be lots of people. 7 days for acclimitzation should be fine, if you do it right. Don't drink alcohol, get lots of rest, drink lots of water, etc. Don't stay in the hut, you won't get any sleep. Have fun, Orizaba is a nice little trip!

http://fresnoclimber.blogspot.com/2017/01/mexico-pico-de-orizaba.html?m=1

Trembly legs Jakerz · · Santa Ana · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 20

Skied it November of 2015 and here's what I remember. The earlier you go (late october/november) gives you a better shot at good snow conditions because summer is the rainy season. Later I imagine it can become less enjoyable to ski but probably less likely to storm on you as well. We stayed a night in Puebla and then drove the next day to Piedra Grande hut. We hiked out that afternoon and set camp around 16,000 feet. Wouldn't you know it we all felt like shit that night, but once we were moving early the next morning we felt pretty decent. Summited that morning and then skied down. Definitely worth bringing skis in my opinion, as you can ski right off the summit and we were able to skin from the start of the glacier all the way to the top. Drove to Veracruz the same night as our summit and ended the evening with beers on the beach...quite a scene change! On our way back to Mexico City, summited Iztaccíhuatl at 17000+. It's on the way back to Mexico City and wasn't skiable (we ditched the skis about half way to the summit) but a super mellow hike with unreal views and a sweet summit. Also worth checking out Teotihuacan during the trip (UNESCO world heritage site super close to Mexico City).

I can't remember if we took screws but I know we took crampons and ice ax. Never had to use any of that stuff though and simply skinned onto the summit (ski crampons were useful).
7 days feels like plenty of time. I've never experienced any altitude issues on lots of 14k peaks and was only briefly bad for us with very limited acclimatization.
2 wheel drive Jeep accomplished everything we needed it to, but with some healthy pushing and positive encouragement.

Stein Pull · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0

Your plan sounds good. The mountain itself, at least in the conditions we experienced it, was super mellow. Crampons and ice axe are plenty. The guided parties are roped, but that seems likely due to standard guiding protocol.

Recommend that you do not stay at Joaquin Canchola Hostel for several reasons. Anywhere else would almost certainly be better.

We did take Diamox ahead of time to help with acclimatization.

There's a really cool Cedar Wright video and article on their Orizaba trip. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventure-blog/2016/04/14/just-because-you-are-a-beginner-doesnt-mean-your-cant-dream-big/ 

Andrew Gram · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 3,580

If you are worried about acclimating you could also spend another day on Nevada de Toluca.  Its a short walk to a 15K summit and Toluca is a very pleasant town.

Definitely second not sleeping in the hut.  Super noisy.

Ccmtneer · · Seattle, WA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 40

Thank you guys, I appreciate the info!  What did you do for transportation from Mexico City to Puebla/Tlachichuca?  Additionally, any experience with the Servimont Hostel?

A J · · Washington, DC · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

1) I would bring a few screws. i turned around last year @ 17k ft as the glacier surface was too icy for my comfort. My understanding is last year's conditions were historically bad but I wish I was more prepared re: ice protection. My previous trip in Oct 2016 was on a soft, stable, generally perfect snow pack - we never even considered placing protection.

2) Puebla is a great town but I wouldn't bother going for acclimatization. Mexico City is actually higher in elevation. A schedule that worked well for me (coming from sea level) was 36 hrs in Mex City, 24 hrs in La Malinche, 24 hours in Tlachichuca and 12 hrs at the piedra granda before an early morning start and summit.

3) When I hiked it in Oct 2016 it would have been perfect skiing conditions. I came back in Nov 2017 with the intent to ski from the summit but conditions were awful, we only skied a short distance. It is a bit of a slog as a ski tour as there is a good 3-4 hr (one way) section navigating scree fields, and a boulder field aptly named the labyrinth. That said it is an incredible experience skiing on a stunning volcano below the 20th parallel, if you don't mind a heavier pack I would bring them.

Lastly Sr Reyes and Servimont are awesome folks and run a great operation in Tlachichuca, I would encourage anyone to stay at their hostel. You can arrange for them to provide transport from Mexico City to Tlachichuca, or rent a car and drive yourself.

NathanC · · Logan, UT · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 10

Was up there last year in December, turned around like almost all other parties did at the glacier.  Ice was too thin to feel good about screws, and too thick to punch pickets through for 1800’.  It was an unusual year by all accounts, but that should answer #1 for you.

My partner came from Boston & did well acclimatizing on Izta for 3-4 days.  He sat the summit day out but outpaced me to 17k on Orizaba.  7 days should be enough...breathe deep & drink water!

I’ll be up there for another go over Christmas.  Hoping for better conditions, but we’ll see what happens.

Stein:  if you don’t mind, shoot me a PM about your reasons for avoiding the Cancholas.  I had an excellent stay with them, and was planning on doing so again this year.  Just curious what your experience was...

sandrock · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115
Stein Pull wrote: 

Recommend that you do not stay at Joaquin Canchola Hostel for several reasons. Anywhere else would almost certainly be better.

We did take Diamox ahead of time to help with acclimatization.

I'm booked with the Cancholas for a trip in three weeks. What issues did you have with them?

Mike Dahlquist · · Oakland, CA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 165

Stein, this is the second time I've seen you talk down Conchola on here, and you didn't tell us why the last time either.  What was so bad about it?  I really enjoyed staying there. 

Stein Pull · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 0
Mike Dahlquist wrote: Stein, this is the second time I've seen you talk down Conchola on here, and you didn't tell us why the last time either.  What was so bad about it?  I really enjoyed staying there. 

Sure. They failed to meet what I consider basic minimums for a hostel. The mattresses in two of the three rooms in which we stayed were the oldest and worst I have ever seen. They were simply springs with cloth covering them, and it was more comfortable to sleep on the concrete floor on my thermarest. No towels, soap, or other essentials were provided. The food was poor and served in too small quantities (and none of us are large individuals who eat a lot). The overall hostel was dirty, from the rooms, to the communal bathrooms, to the communal showers. They seemingly go to very little effort to keep anything clean.

The price is also extremely high. During the planning stages we were considering adding an additional night or two at the hostel after climbing Orizaba. After seeing how bad Conchola was, we were able to book several nights at the Marriott in Mexico City for cheaper than Conchola. I know there are few options, but I cannot recommend Conchola to anyone.
Mike Dahlquist · · Oakland, CA · Joined May 2015 · Points: 165
Stein Pull wrote:

Sure. They failed to meet what I consider basic minimums for a hostel. The mattresses in two of the three rooms in which we stayed were the oldest and worst I have ever seen. They were simply springs with cloth covering them, and it was more comfortable to sleep on the concrete floor on my thermarest. No towels, soap, or other essentials were provided. The food was poor and served in too small quantities (and none of us are large individuals who eat a lot). The overall hostel was dirty, from the rooms, to the communal bathrooms, to the communal showers. They seemingly go to very little effort to keep anything clean.

The price is also extremely high. During the planning stages we were considering adding an additional night or two at the hostel after climbing Orizaba. After seeing how bad Conchola was, we were able to book several nights at the Marriott in Mexico City for cheaper than Conchola. I know there are few options, but I cannot recommend Conchola to anyone.

Very strange, none of this matches up with my experience there.  The food was quite good and basically all-you-can-eat (and I'm a huge pig).  The beds were comfy, though maybe not what a Marriott denizen is used to.  They gave us towels, soap, and shampoo to shower with, and the bathrooms were very clean.  How much did they charge you per night, and what were you expecting to pay?  I can't remember what the exchange rate was last year, but I can't have paid more than $20 a night with two meals.  $19 (with food) at the Marriott seems like you got a great deal, let me know who your travel agent is!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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