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Volcano Trilogy

From 3rd August to 18th we went to Mexico to climb three volcanoes. The Nevado de Toluca (4,600 meters), The Iztaccíhuatl (5,300 meters) and the Pico de Orizaba or Citlaltépetl (5,747 meters).

Day 6th August

Transfer from Valle de Bravo to a refuge in Nevado de Toluca (3,600 mts). The refuge is a very curious: rooms are larger than 4 people and are closed with a door like farewest style.

Accessed by a countryside track with deep vegetation, the trees reach 4,000 meters. During night there is pouring rain / hail, so leaves us the Nevado with snow as well.

Day 7th August

We came up with a 4×4 to the crater’s center of the volcano that is Mexico’s largest. The views are breathtaking, there is a lake with a very beautiful emerald water. We prepare the daypack and climbed very slowly up a hill and then we cresteando to find a wall about 60 meters, make a climb with a grade 4 step in place by our guide Andres. After this point we return to crestear to reach the main summit of Nevado. To download do a lot of traveling through one of the many lunch boxes until you get back to the crater lake where we find the parents of Andrew and do a little celebration with potato omelette, meatballs, peppers, roasted mushrooms and a wine of La Rioja.

We come back to our terrain vehicle and just we start to drive begins to rain and hail to badly reach the refuge.

Day 8th August

We leave the refuge at about 8 am in the direction where we had breakfast in Toluca Vips well. After doing some shopping going towards Mexico City. We cross from west to east without much trouble because it was Sunday. The jam is found to leave Mexico and we lost time doing queue. In the middle of the road there were many street vendors selling coca-cola, candy, tortillas, tea, etc.. Finally we arrive to Amecameca where we will seek permission to enter the National Park Izta-Popo, but being Sunday it was closed. This town is very picturesque, we eat at a Spanish restaurant, in fact, 50/50 Spanish and Mexican. We ate pretty well as the owner was Catalan and he brought us a plate of wild mushrooms, we think it was mushrooms tin.

We go to the Izta-Popo Park and when we arrive at the park house, we receive the permission and the key for Altzomoni’s refuge. The shelter has 3 bedrooms with bunk beds, table and chairs and a fireplace, also 2 bathrooms with light and water (a luxury). We make a good dinner, as always prepared by our guide Andres, talk and look at pictures on Jose Lluis’s computer and listen Juan Manuel Serrat singer.

Day 9th August

We leave Altzomoni’s refuge at 4,000 meters towards another refuge, Grupo de los Cien. We make about 3 Km. of very soft track that we use to heat up to a point called La Joya. Here the road begins to climb steeply to a first pass and from here we see very well from where we left and the volcano Popocatepetl.

By the way, Izta volcano is called The Sleeping White Woman. The route begins at the knee and runs along the silhouette to the highest point are the breasts. The Popocatepetl which is next, according to legend is the warrior who watches his dream.

It is very impressive. We make a short stop at this port to eat a little and relax. We start the journey down a path that leads to a second neck , and then overcome a small hill from where we descend to the refuge at 4780 meters. The refuge is build with metal. When we arrive, Joan and Andres go to load a bag with snow to produce water. We do a small snack until prepare dinner.

Day 10th August

We left the shelter at 4:45 am and immediately embark on a sharp rise of rock and snow very hard. This stretch is very steep up to the foot of the mountain. We make a short stop to rest and eat a little and keep going up and down ridges of snow and a very beautiful glacier to reach the chest that is the main summit. We walk around crater and return along the same route to the refuge and then go down to the Joya and again to the Altzomoni’s refuge. A total of 11 hours spent is a long walk. We return up to 4×4 and we drive to Amecameca Hotel del Bosque. We have a shower and a celebration dinner.

Day 11th August

After eating a good mexican’s breakfast, we drive to Puebla, where we had to find two Americans who also go to Pico de Orizaba volcano which is the last of the trilogy. We eat in a town called Tlachichuca, home of Joaquin, who is the driver to take us on a truck to the refuge of Piedra Grande. They are about 2 hours way for only just 36 kms. as the track is in very poor condition. We arrived safely at the shelter and luckily we are alone. The shelter is very dirty, we clean it up a bit, we had dinner and after chatting, go to sleep.

Day 12th August

After a good breakfast we left the shelter at 9:30am. Today we have to do 700 meters of altitude to reach the Camp 1 at 4,900 meters. where we set up the tents. After leaving the refuge, the way climbs a lot and is very bad with lots of stone. Then it becomes much technical with large stone blocks. We have problems passing across small stream due to water going down for thawing. Gradually we see the weather gets worse and our guides will give a bit of a hurry to get to location where plant the tents. At this place begins to snow and the peak disappears under a thick fog. It will be a relaxing afternoon inside our tends waiting to dinner and expecting better weather tomorrow.

Day 13th August

We got up at 3.30 am and we are surprised for effort to open the tent’s zipper, this is due to snow overnight, about 2 cms. and how cold it is at this moment. From here to the Peak’s glacier is a drop of about 150 meters. At this point we put on crampons and roped us because the ice is very hard. We make a steep path that makes us go very slow. The sun surprise us during this climb, a very spooky as below ours is full of clouds to infinity. Finally we reached the lower top from where we can see part of the crater which is the most spectacular volcano that we have climbed. After stopping to eat something, we restart the march through the ridge to reach the top.

We have done it! We finished the trilogy and we are very happy.

We walk the descent very carefully by the steep slope but quite fast. We arrive to our tends. We pack quickly and we restart our walk to Piedra Grande’s refuge. Bad weather chasing us but we already have the job done.

We meet with our driver, Joaquin, who arrives later than expected due to heavy rains that has fallen and has further damaged the track. The descent down the track is much slower and dangerous, but finally we reach Tlachichuca. We eat a good meal.

The remaining days, we visit Puebla, Mexico City and the pyramids of Teotiuacan which are very impressive.