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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2007 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  November 2007 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
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Author Topic: November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico  (Read 2537 times)

Posts: 18

November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
« on: 11/27/07, 02:26 PM »

This has been reposted from here

Well, we made it.

Harrison Filas, Bobby Kysela, Katie Petrie, Erik Stevens and I accomplished exactly what we had set off to do- set some new records at altitude.  Our destination was in the heart of Mexico, where a volcano known as either Citlaltépetl (the Star Mountain) or, more commonly, Pico De Orizaba; lay in waiting at 18,514 feet.


Here's Harry's itinerary (as edited by me):

Saturday - Flew into Mexico City and stayed at the Ramada (very expensive). Dave and I went out walking and drinking 40 cent beers.

Sunday - Traveled to Tlachichuca and shacked up with Senor Reyes. Explored the market and made some delicious food with all the fresh produce we bought for under $5.

Monday - Set off from just above Hidalgo village at about 12,000 ft and hiked to the hut at 13,900. Dave kindly cooked us some great grubbin', and did so for the rest of the hike. I knew I brought him along for some reason.

Tuesday - We hiked with all of our heavy gear to high camp at 16,150 ft. We were the first to camp here in god knows how long.

Wednesday - We got up at about 4:30 and hit the trail a little after five to head for the summit. The glacier hike went on and on and was rather difficult. We summited in the late morning, hitting 18,514 ft. We then headed back to camp, packed up, and went back to the huts.

Thursday - Waited most of the day for our ride. When we got back we went out for thanksgiving dinner, then played drinking Uno the rest of the night.

Friday - We traveled back to Mexico city and found our next hostel. We spent the night drinking brandy and almost got the police called on us.

Saturday - Woke up at 8:30 so we could go on a guided tour of the pyramids. It was kinda cool, but I thought it was a little boring. We then got some Cuban cigars and drank beer the rest of the night.

Sunday - Woke up at 2:30 am Denver time to travel home.


And here's my account of things:

We took three days to make the summit- camping first at the Piedre Grande hut (14k') and then lugging our 60-plus-pound packs to a high camp at 16k.  It was a little rough sleeping at higher altitude than any of us had ever been to, but we made sure to hydrate and were able to summit the following day, via the Jamampa glacier route.  The standard route gained more elevation in a few miles than we were initially prepared for, but we went very slowly and steadily onwards, traversing the crater rim by around noon.  From the summit we had a beautiful view of all of Mexico, with pollution and a growing cumulus cloud to the south being the only limiting factors.  For the descent I put on my skis and took one last breath of thin air before pushing off from a slight cornice that descended steeply below.  Erik followed on his snowboard, and we made some fairly easy turns on the breakable crust that was ‘da mexican pow’.  It wasn't too much fresh though and it soon became icier and we had to push our way through the turns.  By the second half of the 2,000' run we encountered more friendly snow, that had softened from the sun, and we rode our way through the smooth run-out.
By the end of our summit day we were back at the hut, and found our way back to the city of Tlachicucha by the following night.  I'm writing now from a hostel in Mexico city, and I must admit it's rather anti-climactic to be back in civilization, albeit still a little bit of a culture shock.


In short, this trip turned out to be the perfect culmination of our extensive planning combined with physical and mental preparations.  Despite the snow not being quite what we’d hoped for, Erik and I still had an absolute blast skiing from 18,500.


Site Photos

Harry's Photos

Summitpost Page
« Last Edit: 11/27/07, 02:37 PM by dmandave » Logged

Posts: 316

Re: November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
« Reply #1 on: 11/27/07, 07:42 PM »

Nice work!!

Thanks for the TR,
Looks like conditions were a little better for skiing than when i was there round this time last year.
Is Popo looking like it could be skiable? They probally still have it closed off though.
I'd love to see some more pics!
« Last Edit: 11/27/07, 07:57 PM by danhelmstadter » Logged

Posts: 517

Re: November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
« Reply #2 on: 11/27/07, 08:33 PM »

Congrats on the altitude ski record!

So what's the scoop, guys, how good would the skiing be in the spring?   Could you get all the way back to the huts?  Lower?
Snow Bell

Posts: 532

Re: November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
« Reply #3 on: 11/27/07, 09:41 PM »

Way to go guys and gal!

As a wise man once told me earlier today; "It sure beats sitting on your couch."

Not to make assumptions about your couches.  I am sure that your couches are fine it is rather to illustrate that instead of idly ..........

Good show. Wink

Life is going to slide by you one way or another

Posts: 358

Re: November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
« Reply #4 on: 11/28/07, 07:52 AM »

Congrats on the altitude ski record!

So what's the scoop, guys, how good would the skiing be in the spring? Could you get all the way back to the huts? Lower?

In Mexico it's not really a winter/spring kind of thing.  There's the rainy season (more or less the summer and into fall) and the dry season (most of the rest of the year).  In the spring there will have been almost no precipitation for a long time so the conditions would most likely be very icy.  So in my opinion the best time to ski it is at the end or just after the rainy season (probably late Sept. - mid/late Nov or so) to try and have the best combination of weather and skiing conditions.

I skied it in early October a few years ago and we found more or less excellent corn conditions almost the whole way down although these photos seem to show more snow than I remember, which is cool to see.  I remember some of the photos at Sr. Reyes' seem to show considerably more glaciation in the past, one in particular showed a closeup of his grandfather on Ixta and you could have easily mistaken it for Rainier with the amount of ice around.

Thanks for the for the cool TR and photos!

Posts: 18

Re: November 17-25, 2007 - Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
« Reply #5 on: 11/28/07, 09:50 AM »

Yeah alpentalcorey is definitely correct on this one- right after or during the Mexican "rainy season" is the time to go about skiing (Sept-Nov).

We read a report from a group that had been up two weeks before us and got around 3000' feet of vert from the summit, which we interpreted as being able to ski the Labyrinth section, to around 15,500'.   But this is still not anywhere near the hut, which is down at 13,900'.

We're already looking at new records to these- Argentina and Chile here we come!
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