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Vamos a Mexico?!?!

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Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby timf » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:35 pm

Shoot man I am almost missing this entire summer due to my degree and wife having gotten through thyroid cancer.
Good news is, I am now a college graduate at the ripe age of 39 and my wonderful wife has been a trooper over what is arguably the most treatable form of cancer (97% cure rate).

My parents wanted to treat me to a trip to Ireland as a graduation gift and I'm in the process of trying to redirect their gracious offer to Mexico. They are retorting somewhat with their safety concerns of going to Mexico. I have told them the secret to not getting mugged in Mexico City is rapidly heading for the hills and preferrably by a reputable support service such as Servimont or Oso.
My regular hiking partner and great friend expresses the same concerns and thinks a trip to Gannett Peak would be safer. I would rather Luis or Oso give me a lift and offer safe passage, bottled water, and logistical support (not actual route guiding) then arm myself with bear spray, a .45, and then tip toe across the bergshrund which I feel is a higher risk.

Now specifics and anyone that has done the Mexican volcanoes, please chime in if I am way off base pending that I put down the donut and get my a$$ moving already.

If Orizaba is in the cards (not terribly interested, but could be if this is a 1 shot opportunity), early next December makes the most sense to earn some snow climbing skills this upcoming May/June.

If Orizaba is scrapped altogether (Ixta really looks far more interesting to me and my #1 objective, but what do I know), then leave it at Nevado de Toluca on Day 2 (airport to trailhead transfer on day 1), full 24 hours at La Joya or that other nearby hut (Day 3 acclimate), and then a high camp at/near Los Cien hut (Day 4 acclimate), followed by Ixta summit bid on Day 5. Then showers followed by some celebrating and other touristy stuff. This I would propose in February which allows for a good 5 months of conditioning.

Does this sound reasonable? I assume if Orizaba is on the docket, allow 1 day to transfer from Amecameca to the Reyes compound, full day or 2 at Piedra Grande, and then summit bid adds another 3 days to the above followed by a 4th for travel back home.

If my friend decides this is too crazy a risk (we are both conservative family guys in our decision making), do any other conservative family guys have this on their radar within the next year? Not to say that single people can't express an interest. I just used family guy as a descriptor of myself and my regular climbing partner. Single or raising a family, I prefer to head for the hills with people that make the people they want to come home to a big part of their algorithm when faced with a difficult decision. I know many people here have rented cars, taken taxis, and/or used the bus system with either no problem or only minor logistical snafus. My intention is use one of the reputable outfitters for transportation, bottled water, gear watching, and perhaps a meal/shower/bed in between peaks.

Thanks for reading. Any and all advice is welcome including how to avoid Montezuma's revenge, training, traveler/AAC insurance, where to get fuel (I have a 1st generation Jet Boil), did you bring USD, pesos, & travelers checks, etc, etc.

I know there are many planning threads and trip reports so this is a combination thread of trip planning and hey is anyone else in Nevado & Ixta in 2/2011 OR Nevado, Ixta, & Orizaba 12/2011.

Thanks!

Tim
Last edited by timf on Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby atalarico » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:56 pm

Having spent a fair amount of time in Mexico City and Oaxaca, I'd say go for it. It really is no more dangerous than LA or any other big metropolis, and I've never had an issue of personal safety in Mexico.

The most dangerous places right now are along the border. Avoid those places and you'll be just fine.

I've walked alone in the "dangerous" parts of DF (Distrito Federal AKA Mexico City) at night and never had a problem and I'm hardly intimidating looking. Sure, I've been in some situations I was smart enough to realize were getting sketchy real quickly, but so long as you have an exit, you're fine.

However, do yourself a favor and try to learn as much conversational Spanish as you can. It will go a long way in ensuring you have a good time, and it will get you off the beaten path a little bit, which is where the real adventure lies. Mexicans will appreciate your effort and they'll tend to treat you a little better than they treat the tourists who try to just play charades to interact.

I have a good friend that has climbed Orizaba twice, and he loves that volcano. If you're that concerned about your personal safety (which is funny because we're talking about climbing mountains here), go with a guide service who can send a fixer of sorts to meet you at the airport and hang out with you while you're in Mexico City.

Mexico is really a fantastic country and you shouldn't be deterred because of the violence that is exploding along the border towns.

Cheers and Viva Mexico!

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby MountainHiker » Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:08 pm

Here are my trip reports for Ixta and La Malinche.

I’ve been to Mexico a few times so I have more comfort with using the bus system and having less support. Hopefully you can glean some tips.

http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/376073/la-malinche-with-utm.html
http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/377355/Iztaccihuatl-UTM.html
Red, Rugged, and Rotten: The Elk Range - Borneman & Lampert

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby Gabriel » Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:33 pm

Hello,

I have spent my last 6, 2 week winter breaks climbing in Mexico. I really don't think the interior is dangerous. I'm a family man, been married for 25 years. You can travel safely and easily to Puebla/Tlachichuca on a bus directly out of the airport terminal in Mexico City. In many ways much easier than travel from a large city in the US.

Good Luck,

G

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby timf » Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:14 am

BUMP! Anyone want to go in Feb/Mar? Anyone?

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby kaiman » Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:22 am

atalarico wrote:Having spent a fair amount of time in Mexico City and Oaxaca, I'd say go for it. It really is no more dangerous than LA or any other big metropolis, and I've never had an issue of personal safety in Mexico.

The most dangerous places right now are along the border. Avoid those places and you'll be just fine.

I've walked alone in the "dangerous" parts of DF (Distrito Federal AKA Mexico City) at night and never had a problem and I'm hardly intimidating looking. Sure, I've been in some situations I was smart enough to realize were getting sketchy real quickly, but so long as you have an exit, you're fine.

However, do yourself a favor and try to learn as much conversational Spanish as you can. It will go a long way in ensuring you have a good time, and it will get you off the beaten path a little bit, which is where the real adventure lies. Mexicans will appreciate your effort and they'll tend to treat you a little better than they treat the tourists who try to just play charades to interact.

I have a good friend that has climbed Orizaba twice, and he loves that volcano. If you're that concerned about your personal safety (which is funny because we're talking about climbing mountains here), go with a guide service who can send a fixer of sorts to meet you at the airport and hang out with you while you're in Mexico City.

Mexico is really a fantastic country and you shouldn't be deterred because of the violence that is exploding along the border towns.

Cheers and Viva Mexico!


I echo atalarico's comments. The media is making things seem violent all over Mexico when it is really only in a few border towns where things are bad.

I would love to go climb Itza and Orizaba, but can't afford it this year... Sorry. How about next year? :wink:

Here are a few things I've learned in my travels that might be helpful to you though:

I have been there 6 times and traveled quite a bit in both touristy areas (Cancun, PV, etc), urban areas (Mexico City, Tijuana, etc), and rural areas (Chiapas, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Chihuahua, Sonora, etc) throughout the country. The only incident I've ever had was when we parked our car near the beach around Christmas time in Santa Rosa after taking the ferry over from Baja California and had it broken into. Interestingly they left the wallet (with credit cards and money), our presents, and everything else, and only stole a couple pairs of Levi's blue jeans :-s

Also, if you are driving, make sure to get plenty of insurance, because if you have an accident (even if it is clearly not your fault), and don't have insurance your kinda screwed and will have to pay big time to get out of trouble. Or better yet, if your comfortable with it, just use the buses/taxi service and you should be fine.

I've felt more fear while traveling through certain parts of LA, Washington DC, and Detroit then I ever did in Mexico City or Tijuana, but wouldn't want to spend much time in some of the border towns, especially Ciudad/Juarez (on the other side of the river from El Paso) where things are crazy right now and have been for awhile.

Simply put, just don't go looking for trouble and you will be fine, especially in the country/mountains where other then occasional communication/logistic issues, things tend to go pretty smoothly and the people are honest and friendly...

Just my 2 cents,

kaiman
"I want to keep the mountains clean of racism, religion and politics. In the mountains this should play no role."

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby timf » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:14 am

kaiman wrote:I would love to go climb Itza and Orizaba, but can't afford it this year... Sorry. How about next year? :wink:


Technically speaking I am looking at next year albeit Feb/Mar [-o<
Seriously though thanks for your input.

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby jenniferpetrik » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:42 am

Hi,
I went with RMI Guides to Orizaba then a local guide out of Mexico City for Izta. There were people attempting without guides on both. None of them were successful. It reminded me of my many trips abroad with buddies trying to climb. The part that killed our summit each time was not that we weren't physically in shape, it was that we didn't have a handle on the logistics. Where to stop driving, when to start hiking, how far to hike on the first day, etc....

I would recommend staying at Dr. Reyes compound after Mexico City then hiring a driver to drive you to the hut on Orizaba. Camp there, hike up a ways the next day to get some altitude. Return for some rest. Then 12am start at the summit and return to the hut, meet your driver and head down. You could always add another day to acclimatize too.

Izta, I'm glad I had someone who knew where to go. It was completely socked in and we barely found our way across the glacier. Glad my local guide knew what to look for. GPS would have been great for our trip with very little visibility. We summitted no problem. Ran into another group on the way up. They were gaining too fast too quick after flying into the City. We didn't see them on the way down. Figured the headache from one of them was enough for their retreat. this reminded me of my climbing teams when I was younger, gung ho and invincible. I was really glad I was spending the $425 for my local guide and a really high chance of success.

I really enjoyed getting a local experience on the way to the mountain. We stopped at a local market, enjoyed breakfast with the locals, I stopped him on our way out to buy a few pots that the locals cook in $0.50 - $3 for a huge pot. I couldn't pass it up. Then up the mountain. Nice guy has a young daughter.

His contact information is : Mario Andrade, mountainup@hotmail.com

hope this helps.
Good luck and have a great time. Total LOVE Mexico and Mexico City after this trip. Squeeze in a trip to Teotihuacan. I stayed at Zocolo square and felt very safe as a single woman. Took the subway and bus system to the ruins. There are pretty inexpensive hotels right off the square. I just used a lonley planet for my trip.

Cheers and great trip,
-Jen
Juice Life as my friend Barry Sweet would say.

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby SharonH » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:44 pm

I just got back from Mexico yesterday, so hope I can provide some fresh insights into climbing there. Being from Colorado, I already had a leg up on acclimatization and climbed ten new 14ers this past summer with no problem.

I climbed with a guide friend who is originally from Mexico City and not only speaks the language, but knows all the ends and outs of Mexico driving, permit systems, and climbing the volcanoes. We climbed Nevado de Toluca (15,300) the day after I arrived in Mexico City. This mountain is very straight forward and was great to get some altitude and to make sure I could handle the increased elevation.

The next day we drove to Amecameca to get the climbing permit for Iztaccihuatl, and then up to the Altzomoni Hut at 13,000. The hut was very clean and surprisingly warm and I would recommend staying there. We climbed to 15,000 feet (to the third portillo or saddle) on Iztaccihuatl the next day to further acclimatize. Sleeping two nights at 13,000 feet really helped with acclimatization.

On summit day, we left the trailhead at 0430 as it usually takes about 7-8 hours to summit Izta. Though the absolute elevation gain from the La Joya trailhead is only about 4500 feet vertical gain, there was plenty of altitude loss on the trail. You climb up to the feet, down the feet, up the knees, down the knees, up the belly, down the belly to the glacier, up to the summit. I would guess it ended up being about 6000 feet elevation gain when factoring in the various descents.

The climb was not at all difficult except for one short Class 3 scramble after the Grupo de los Cien hut at 15,500. Several climbers spent the night at this hut, but it looked very uncomfortable and was cold even on the very warm day we climbed. Also, they had to backpack up with sleeping gear, stoves and extra water and I could imagine spending a miserable night there.

We arrived at the summit at 1:00 pm (8 1/2 hours) to perfect warm weather and a cloudless sky--there was not even a hint of wind at 17,120 feet! I will admit the climb down was not as pleasant as the climb up. All told, round trip with breaks and almost an hour on the summit took 15 hours--I was exhausted. We drove back down to Amecameca to spend the night, before leaving for the airport the next morning.

So, in my opinion, it was worth climbing Izta in one day versus staying at the high hut. Getting in several acclimatization hikes makes it easier. I experienced no effects of the higher altitude except some nausea on the way down. The raging headache I experienced the first and last several hours on the trail literally went away as soon as I took my headlamp off--go figure--I have never had problems with my headlamp before.

The highlight of the climb was a little black dog named "Solobino." He was at the Altzomoni hut the first night and followed us on the drive to the La Joya trailhead and climbed with us up to 15,000 feet. He then followed us back to the trailhead and ran ahead of the car, getting back to the hut before we did. On summit day, he followed us the entire way, even up the Class 3 section. He would take a nap when we stopped along the trail, and posed for pictures on the summit. My friend had climbed Izta the week before and said the dog followed his group up to the summit that day too.

I will be posting my trip report and pictures in the next several days, but let me know if you have any questions about Nevado de Toluca or Iztaccihuatl.

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby CRAIGO » Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:30 pm

My 2 cents on Izta:

The trail is very starightforward and I went unguided. The only thing a guide would be useful for would be arranging a ride to/from the trailhead. I camped a night at the groupo de los cien hut (15,500'), which really helped not only with the altitude, but breaking up the hike. If you do fine here at 14k', just force yourself to eat and drink at 17k' and you'll be ok. Although the mileage is not too bad, it's a long trip. Just camp (the shelter is mouse infested, so bring a tent) and do it in two days. Even if you speak minimal Spanish, you can arrange a taxi. The drivers do this all the time in Amecameca. Maybe you could ask for advise at the ranger station when you're getting your permits. Have fun! It's been one of my favorite vacations ever.

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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby djkest » Mon Nov 15, 2010 3:41 pm

I went to Ireland this year and I thought it was awesome. I didn't climb any mountains, but there are a few. Of course, they are pretty easy by comparison. Depends- do you want beautiful scenery and something unique? Ireland can do that. Do you really need a big number associated with the altitude? Look elsewhere. The people were really great, all speak english, and we had a blast.

I personally will not now nor ever go to Mexico, I don't want to support that corrupt regime in any way and I value my safety. The big draw for most americans (non-climbers) is just the fact that it's cheap.

Just you know, as a counterpoint.
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Re: Vamos a Mexico?!?!

Postby JB99 » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:04 pm

djkest wrote:I personally will not now nor ever go to Mexico, I don't want to support that corrupt regime in any way and I value my safety.


Mexico, particularly in the places that you travel to in order to climb their big volcanoes, is extremely safe, friendly etc... I would be much less concerned to have my sisters or wife travel alone in these parts of Mexico than any major U.S. city.
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