El Pico de Orizaba - 18,491' / 5636m
5-11 November 2017
Nope, this is not miss-filed! Pico de Orizaba (18,491 ft / 5636 m) is the highest point in Mexico and the third highest point in North America. It’s a popular mountaineering objective in its own right, but we propose doing what we’re best known for – skiing 4000 ft from the summit to the toe of the Jamapa Glacier! This trip timed to coincide with the end of the storms that brings Orizaba most of its snow, and happens to on the week before Dia de Muertos – the Day of the Dead, one of the great holidays of Mexican culture.
A shorter itinerary, lower guest-to-guide ratio, and a ski mountaineering climb and descent sets this trip apart. And while this trip is relatively short – only 7-8 days – we spend those days maximizing our acclimatization. We take a unique trekking approach from the town of Tlachichuca to the refuge at the base of the route, carrying light day packs while our heavier mountain and ski equipment are shuttled up by car. To make this trip possible I’ve teamed up with Pro Guiding Service and Servimont Climbing Adventures, a three-generation local logistics and guide service.
We'll have a 3:1 ratio for this trip, or 6:2 maximum. A minimum of two signups are necessary to launch.
Day One – I'll meet you in Mexico City, either at the airport or your hotel if you arrived early. Servimont will drive us to their lodge in Tlachichuca (8500 ft / 2600 m). We can stop enroute at a grocery store to pick up lunch ingredients for five personal lunches if needed. Sleep: Lodge. Meals: Dinner provided by the lodge.
Day Two – Let the acclimatization begin! Today we'll take a day hike with a Servimont hiking guide through the foothills to a viewpoint of Orizaba and a highpoint of 11,800 ft / 3600 m, then return to the Lodge. Sleep: Lodge. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided by the lodge.
Day Three – We'll continue our acclimitizing and we'll start climbing, with an overnight trek that ends tomorrow at the Peidra Grande Refugio. Today a Servimont hiking guide will lead us up the west slopes to a camp near 11,150 ft / 3400 m. We'll only be hiking with light day packs: a Servimont truck will transport our camping equipment and meet us at camp - our mountain equipment will be packed separately and meet us tomorrow at the Refugio. Sleep: Camp. Meals: Breakfast provided by the lodge. Dinner provided by myself.
Day Four – We'll finish our trek to the Peidra Grande Refugio (14,000 ft / 4270 m). Servimont will meet us there with all of our mountain equipment. Since the hut is accessible by (high-clearance 4WD) cars, Servimont also has a warden stay with us to keep our possessions secure when we're absent. Sleep: Refugio. Meals: Breakfast, dinner provided by myself.
Day Five – This is our last planned acclimitization day. We'll climb up to 16,000 ft / 4900 m. Depending on snow coverage, this may be fully or partly a ski tour, or just a great hike - if its the latter, we'll cache our ski gear at our high point for tomorrow. Sleep: Refugio. Meals: Breakfast, dinner provided by myself.
Day Six – Summit Day! We'll retrace our route from yesterday, then step onto the Jamapa Glacier, and follow it to the crater rim and a short hike around to the summit cross. Our ski descent starts from the crater rim as well, and we'll descend all the way back to the Refugio. There a Servimont truck will meet us and drive us the rest of the way back to Tlachichuca for a celebratory dinner a real bed in the lodge! Sleep: Lodge. Meals: Breakfast provided by myself. Dinner provided by the lodge.
Day Seven – POSSIBLE WEATHER DAY. I recommend that everyone “pad” their trip by one day to allow for a possible weather delay. This can be as simple as purchasing refundable tickets to allow for an earlier booking home. Other options include spending an extra day in Mexico City or Puebla. Or you can choose to spend a second night at the Servimont lodge in Tlachichuca, who offer a guided tour of Cantona, a pre-Columbian city that was even bigger than Teotihuacan near Mexico City. This weather day on the mountain costs a flat rate of $500 USD, if it is used.
Day Eight – Servimont will transport us back to Mexico City, to the airport or your hotel, in the morning. So it's possible to book your flight for mid-afternoon or later and make it home in time for breakfast tomorrow! Meals: Breakfast provided by the lodge.
Included in cost:
Transportation to and from Mexico City.
Lodging. All lodging listed in the 7-day itinerary is included. The 8th day is extra and not included in the up-front cost.
Meals. Starting with Dinner on Day One and ending with Breakfast on Day 8, all breakfasts and dinners are provided. Lunches are also provided on Day 2. Lunches for Days 3, 4, 5, and 6 are the guest's responsibility, and we recommend 4-6 snacks to eat throughout the day, just like when climbing elsewhere. We also recommend purchasing a fifth lunch for the "Weather Day" in case we stay longer on the mountain.
Hiking guide and Refugio warden
Team camping equipment (tents, stoves, etc).
Team technical equipment (ropes, protection, etc)
Not included in cost:
Lodging and meal costs incurred by adding the weather day described above (if it occurs).
Gratuity for hiking guide, refuge warden, and mountain guide.