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In the heart of Mexico, and a scenic drive from the bustling capital city, lies the grand volcanic peak of Itza and Orizaba.
Izta, “the sleeping lady” is located 50 miles southeast of Mexico City and this is Mexico’s third highest peak. The mountain itself comprises four peaks whose features are named for various parts of a sleeping female figure: the head, chest, knees and feet! Depending on the team’s ability, we will climb one of two routes: the Arista Del Sol Route along a majestic and classic ridge or the more technical Ayoloco Route. From the summit you will have close-up views of the highly active Popocatepetl and even Mexico City depending on conditions.
We recover and replenish in the city of Puebla before our next aim: Orizaba. Orizaba (5746m) is Mexico’s highest peak and the third highest peak in North America. Its prominent height even makes it visible to ships arriving at the ports of Veracruz.
The climb itself from the trailhead to the glacier is relatively straightforward. But once on the main flanks of the glacier the trail steepens and the slope increases to make the crampon work both steady and adrenaline fueled. Once cresting the summit rim we’re rewarded with a few a across central Mexico and out to the sea.
Day 1: A Benegas Brothers Guide will meet you at the Mexico City International Airport in the evening and transport you to our 4-star hotel in Mexico City, Hotel Galeria Plaza. We can spend the evening taking in the sights of the city and beginning the acclimatization process here at 2,240 meters. With a population of 8.5 million, the city captures the heart as both the capital of the country and the center of the much earlier Aztec Empire.
Day 2: Leaving Mexico City behind, we drive through gorgeous high-elevation terrain to the slopes of Popocatepetl and Ixta. We can explore a fantastic market in the town of Amecameca where we stay for the night at motel Rincon del Bosque.
Day 3: Our drive continues towards Popo-Ixta National Park and to the Paso de Cortez, named after Cortez who crossed the pass in 1529 en route to the city of Tenochtitlan. From the Paso de Cortez we head a short distance north to La Joya, a road head camp. We will stay at this camp for the next 24 hours to further our acclimatization. We can take acclimatization hikes in the forest around Tlamacas or relax and enjoy the great view of the volcanoes and the surrounding pine forest.
Day 4: We use either the La Arista del Sol (Ridge of the Sun) route or the Glacier de Ayoloco route to climb Ixta, depending on weather conditions and the strength of the group. Today the group will move camp to a hut higher on the mountain, depending upon the ascent route. In Aztec mythology, Ixta is known as the “Sleeping Lady” and with a little imagination; you can see her head, breast, belly, and knees along the skyline. In ancient legend Izta and Popcatepetl (a nearby volcano – Mexico’s second highest) were once lovers, but were turned into mountains after displeasing the gods. Iztaccihuatl was turned into a mountain without life and Popcatepetl was given eternal life. This curse means that he must gaze upon the extinct form of his beloved Izta forever. His anguish is to blame for the rumblings of the earth! When discussing the mountain, local guides and climbers use these anatomical terms in reference to key landmarks and climbing routes. Our base camp is at 3,900m on the edge of a pine forest, at Albergue Altzomoni de Iztaccihuati.
Day 5: With an early start, we will make our summit attempt on Ixta. The La Arista del Sol route, the classic line, climbs steep terrain to gain the Rodillas (knees) and then traverses several false summits to the top. The Glacier de Ayoloco route, the more direct line, climbs directly up the glacier from the Ayoloco hut, passing several crevassed areas and small ice cliffs. The climb itself should take roughly 4 hours and after taking in the summit views to Popcatepetl, Peubla, and Mexico City will fill the skyline. From here, we will descend to the trailhead and drive to Amecameca for a well-deserved feast and a more comfortable night’s sleep at the Hacienda Panoaya.
Day 6: Today we will drive through Mexico’s scenic countryside, experiencing the local hospitality and navigating the scenic terrain. We spend the night in the colorful town of Puebla (7,000′), where we can restock supplies or and enjoy more of the local cuisine. Tonight we stay at the Hotel Colonial de Puebla.
Day 7: From Puebla we drive to Tlachichuca and then on in 4-wheel drive vehicles up the flanks of Orizaba to the hut at Piedra Grand located at 4,230 meters on the north side of the volcano. We spend the night in either tents, or in the hut, on the plateau just above the tree line. We will aim for an early night as the summit push begins the next morning.
Day 8: After a pre-dawn start, we head for the summit of Orizaba. Our route follows the Glacier de Jamapa, which is a straightforward slope at an average angle of 30°. The route goes through a rock ravine and traverses below a band of rock before reaching the crater rim. From here, we follow the edge of the crater around to the summit, officially marked with a cross! From here, the views across the Gulf of Mexico and the central plateau are quite breathtaking. After spending some time on the summit, we descend back down to Tlachichuca for hot shower and celebrations at the motel Gerard de Tlachichuca.
Day 9: Contingency day for bad weather on summit days, overnight at motel Gerard de Tlachichuca.
Day 10: Our last day sees us return to Mexico City in the morning and depart for home at the end of the day.
Most major US airlines offer daily flights to Mexico City (MEX). Flights should be booked to allow for an arrival time in the early afternoon on Day 1 of the itinerary.
Departing flights should be booked for 15:00 or later on Day 10.
In Country Transportation
The provided transportation in Mexico as stated in the itinerary is via private vans.
A valid passport is required when traveling to/from Mexico by air. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected date of return. U.S. passport holders can stay up to 90 days without a visa.
Upon arrival in Mexico City, you will be required to complete a currency declaration form which will be submitted to the authorities on your departure. You will also need to retain the “stub” of your immigration form for the duration of your stay, and present it upon leaving. Loss of this stub usually results in a fine.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a back up. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Upon arrival at the Mexico City airport, follow the signs through Immigrations. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay.
After picking up your bags, proceed to Customs where there will be a random selection of bags for inspection. As you enter into the main terminal building, you will be greeted by a crowd of baggage handlers. The scene can be a bit overwhelming. Just keep your bags together and look for your BBE guide!
There have been occasional reports of baggage handlers escorting tourists from one taxi desk to another in an effort to get them to pay “additional” fees – baggage fees, excess baggage fees, over-sized baggage fees, etc. These are bogus fees and only intended to take advantage of tourists caught in the hectic pace of a strange airport. Simply be aware of this. You only need to pay the fare once, and you will be given a receipt
All of the meals served on Benegas Brothers Expeditions trips are a combination of the best local and regional fares along with occasional specialty items brought from the US. We are happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions and/or allergies. We practice an expedition motto of “happiness through eating!”
We recommend that you bring snacks to supplement the mountain lunches for 5 days. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Russia, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take snacks that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Breakfast and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
Our international trips feature local standard four-five star accommodations in the larger cities and towns. These hotels offer all of the amenities you would expect; room service, laundry, wireless internet…etc. They are often close to the local points of interest, unique shops and colorful markets, and offer guests a comfortable place to relax between the trip activities.
During our treks and climbs we will be camping with Style. You might find yourself waking up to a hot tea delivered with a smile right to the foot of your tent each morning, or playing cards in the dining tent during afternoon tea with new acquaintances, or enjoying a fine meal prepared by our cook staff that is present on each trip. Camping will take on a new meaning for you!
The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso. The recent exchange rate was about 9.8 pesos to the U.S. dollar. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You will find that $300-$400 for spending money is adequate for restaurant meals, drinks and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
Cash machines are readily available in Mexico City, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of the main urban areas. There are several cash machines at the airport which makes it very easy and convenient to withdraw cash. While American dollars are widely accepted, we recommend changing money at the airport so that you have Mexican Pesos for airport porters, taxis, etc.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
October 18 – 27 2016
November 1 – 10 2016
October 12 – 21 2017
October 22 – 31 2017
Familiarity with glacier travel techniques, basic snow and ice climbing skills and very good physical condition.
Summit two of the highest Peaks of Mexico
Ecuador Volcanoes, Aconcagua, Elbrus, Khumbu Climber, Bolivia Alpinist.
$3,200 minimum of 4
The current fee includes:
The fee does not include:
*Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
In the winters, Brian works as a Ski Patroller at Snowbird Ski Resort and a Ski Guide in the Wasatch. The rest of the year, Brian finds himself in Washington on Mount Rainier, or in the North Cascades, up in Alaska on Denali, or guiding Ski Mountaineering trips. Brian has guided internationally in Tanzania, Nepal, and Canada. Brian is a Certified Ski Guide by the American Mountain Guides Association, holds a Level III Avalanche certification, and is certified in Outdoor Emergency Care. When Brian is not working, you can find him looking to find big lines to ski, or out climbing in the Utah desert.
We can organize this expedition on a ‘tailor-made’ private basis for groups of friends, families, clubs, charities or any other group. Depending on your mountaineering experience, you may want a BBE leader or go ‘self-led’ with the assistance of local guides. The cost of going private can be surprisingly reasonable, particularly if you take the self-led option. Please contact us to discuss the itinerary and your preferred dates. We will then send you a quote, with no obligation.