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Have you climbed Orizaba?

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Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby JB99 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:20 pm

I'm writing a final paper for one of my classes this semester and it's a sort of "how-to" guide to climbing Orizaba. I know all the info I need as far as logistics, the climb etc. since I've been down there a few times. What I need is quotes from other people who have climbed it, or want to. Feel free to just comment, or answer one or more of my questions below. Thanks all.

If you've climbed it....

Did you summit?

Why did/didn't you in your opinion?

What was your general impression of the trip?

Was this your first experience at "extremely high-altitude (over 18k feet)?"

Any advice for someone who wants to climb Orizaba?

Did you use a guide? If so were you glad you did? If not do you wish you did?

Did you use a high camp?

How would you compare the climb to others you have done, particularly Colorado 14ers?

What would you do differently if you could go again?

What was your favorite part of the climb/trip?

For those that haven't climbed it but want to, or have thought about it...

What's kept you from going to this point?

What are your biggest fears/apprehensions about the trip?

What questions do you have about the climb?

Thanks all, any other comments are welcome...
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby skiwall » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:54 pm

May I get a copy of this paper when it's done? :)
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby Dave B » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:59 pm

JB99 wrote:
For those that haven't climbed it but want to, or have thought about it...

What's kept you from going to this point?

What are your biggest fears/apprehensions about the trip?

What questions do you have about the climb?

Thanks all, any other comments are welcome...


That's me alright.

I was actually hoping for Orizaba to be my first foray into high(er) altitude climbing but I was able to get on a wicked cheap trip to Aconcagua later this month...

I guess I'll find my affinity for altitude the hard way :D

My biggest fear/apprehension about the climb would actually be dealing with traveling through Mexico City, albeit probably not bad enough to keep me from doing the trip. Dealing with the altitude is a big one, but after I see how I do on Aconcagua it may or may not be an issue what so-ever.

My questions would be:

1. What is the cost? Aconcagua ended up costing me about $4300 including airfare plus about $1200 in new gear... I'll be paying those student loans off for a while
2. I'm sure sleeping in the cabins at 15,000 feet is nice, but seems a bit off to me as far as mountaineering goes, is it easy to bypass those?
3. For some one with limited conversational spanish, is this a trip that can easily be completed without the assistance of a guide?
4. I've never seen many pictures of people roped up on the glacier, are crevasse dangers minimal?

Good luck with your paper, I'd like to see a finished copy as well!
Last edited by Dave B on Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby MountainHiker » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:02 pm

Did you summit?
Yes, twice 1993 2006

Why did/didn't you in your opinion?
In shape, did things right, and weather cooperated.

What was your general impression of the trip?
Great

Was this your first experience at "extremely high-altitude (over 18k feet)?"
In 1993 yes.

Any advice for someone who wants to climb Orizaba?
Be in fourteener shape and do the right things with acclimation, water, gear etc.

Did you use a guide? If so were you glad you did? If not do you wish you did?
No, No

Did you use a high camp?
No, climbed from the hut. I don’t believe (for me) the trade-off is worth the high camp. More exertion to establish the high camp. Less chance of sleeping for only saving a couple hours in the morning.

How would you compare the climb to others you have done, particularly Colorado 14ers?
It is a different experience. The glacier can be user friendly or bullet proof. Volcanoes have nasty loose fine dirt. Getting there is a cultural experience.

What would you do differently if you could go again?
The second time we did an acclimation climb of Toluca first. I would include Toluca or La Malince or another Mexican peak for acclimation.
I also have more comfort level with the Mexican bus system now. I have been in a group which hired transportation. Except for the ride up to the hut unnecessary.


What was your favorite part of the climb/trip?
Sunrise

For those that haven't climbed it but want to, or have thought about it...
Keep climbing. You can gain a lot of experience here in Colorado that will pay off when you travel.
Practice your Spanish!


What are your biggest fears/apprehensions about the trip?
Before going I would never know how well all the plans would come together.
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby JB99 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:06 pm

skiwall wrote:May I get a copy of this paper when it's done? :)


Sure. I thought about posting it here or on summitpost after it's done too.

Thanks MountainHiker!
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby USAKeller » Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:44 pm

JB99 - if you have any interest in reading through it, I answered a lot of your questions (with some in the last paragraph about apprehension, altitude, guides) in my Orizaba Ski Trip Report from October 2009.
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby benners » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:46 pm

Hey JB, sounds interesting. They're letting you write a paper about climbing?? I must have missed that class on my way through :D.

Anyhoo we climbed it in December of 2007, answers are below in bold:

Did you summit?
Yes

Why did/didn't you in your opinion?
We had great weather and had acclimated on Ixta a few days prior so it was pretty much simplified to just one foot in front of the other to the top.

What was your general impression of the trip?
It's a great trip; overall not too expensive and you get the chance to get some big peaks. Finding your way through Mexico is always interesting as well, especially if you're the adventurous type. I'd say this is a great trip to go on with good friends for that reason.

Was this your first experience at "extremely high-altitude (over 18k feet)?"
It was our first experience with altitudes above 14,400', as it is for many. I think stepping over that 14,400' mark for the first time is always special for Colorado mountaineers, it was for me at least.

Any advice for someone who wants to climb Orizaba?
Take the peak seriously. Just because a ton of people have climbed it doesn't mean you shouldn't treat it with respect. Orizaba creates its own weather and the glacier can be fairly dangerous if it ices over. Also make sure to take the acclimation component seriously, I think this is the main reason a lot of people don't summit. When we were there we came across at least 5 people who had gotten AMS around 16,000' and had to turn around.

Did you use a guide? If so were you glad you did? If not do you wish you did?
No and we're glad we didn't. In my opinion Orizaba is a great opportunity to grow and expand your mountaineering skills without someone there holding your hand. Our experience wouldn't have been half as satisfying if we had gone with a guide. On Orizaba I don't really see what a guide would contribute other than being able to tell you to turn around if he thinks you should. But then again I don't like climbing guided, so I'm sort of biased on this one. I'm sure some could make a perfectly good argument for why you would want a guide on Orizaba, I guess it's just a personal preference thing.

Did you use a high camp?
No, though a fair amount of people plan to start from the bottom, climb to their high camp with all their overnight gear, and sleep there, and I don't really understand why. Not only does doing so violate the "climb high, sleep low" recommendation, but I believe your body acclimates better at 14,000' than it does at 16,500'. We slept for two nights at 14,000' with a brief acclimation hike up to 16,500' during our second day at the huts. On the morning of the third day we left from the bottom carrying day packs and had acclimated well enough to reach the summit with ease. It felt just like a 14er to me.

How would you compare the climb to others you have done, particularly Colorado 14ers?
Depends. I'd say there's a mental factor the first time you climb above 14,400' because you have no idea how your body will react, and we were definitely a little worried about it. Physically speaking I've done more demanding climbs in both summer and winter on many peaks here in Colorado, and the snow climbing on Orizaba is intermediate. If you're comfortable climbing 40 degree snow here in Colorado you shouldn't have a problem.

What would you do differently if you could go again?
Ski it!

What was your favorite part of the climb/trip?
I loved the adventurous nature of the entire trip. Going down there we had no idea how we were going to get from peak to peak, where we were going to stay, how well we'd be able to communicate, how our bodies were going to do with the altitude, or whether or not we had enough money to pull it off. We just sort of winged it, and it was really satisfying when we came home successful. Also it was fun to go through the whole experience with a good friend, definitely grew our friendship.

Good luck with the paper!

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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby gb » Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:36 pm

If you've climbed it....

Did you summit?
yes


Why did/didn't you in your opinion?
We were strong and acclimated, as we all lived at 9500' and also climbed Malinche first.


What was your general impression of the trip?
Awesome


Was this your first experience at "extremely high-altitude (over 18k feet)?"
yes


Any advice for someone who wants to climb Orizaba?
Acclimate. I really enjoyed the adventure/cultural part of it, such as taking local transportation. Also, leave time to go to the beach. And I liked ixta better.


Did you use a guide? If so were you glad you did? If not do you wish you did?
no, no.


Did you use a high camp?
Yes. Primarily, we wanted a better night's sleep than a noisy hut with people coming and going. Plus we felt that our gear would be safer in a high camp than at the hut, where things have been known to be stolen.


How would you compare the climb to others you have done, particularly Colorado 14ers?
Similar to a spring climb of an easy 14er, although we had good conditions.


What would you do differently if you could go again?
nothing


What was your favorite part of the climb/trip?
see above with the adventure comment.


TR's for malinche/Orizaba/Ixta for more info:
http://14erskiers.com/franksblog/2010/10/mexico-volcanoes-november-2000-part-1-2/
http://14erskiers.com/franksblog/2010/10/mexico-volcanoes-november-2000-part-2/

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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby JB99 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:17 pm

Thanks to everyone for contributing responses for my paper. I posted the finished version here: http://www.summitpost.org/a-colorado-climber-s-guide-to-the-roof-of-mexico/684957

I thought about posting it here as a trip report but since summitpost has a specific section for "how-to" articles it seemed more appropriate there. If enough people want I'll post a copy here as well though.

To answer Davey Rocket's questions:

1. What is the cost? Aconcagua ended up costing me about $4300 including airfare plus about $1200 in new gear... I'll be paying those student loans off for a while

I don't remember the exact cost but on our second trip we spent under $1,000 for me and the lady, including flights, food, transportation... everything. We didn't need to buy much additional gear beyond what we use for winter/spring climbing in Colorado. Aconcagua is a much more serious trip though so I don't know if comparing the costs is too relevant.

2. I'm sure sleeping in the cabins at 15,000 feet is nice, but seems a bit off to me as far as mountaineering goes, is it easy to bypass those?

The hut is pretty bare bones, not much more than a roof and a place to lay your sleeping pad. There are good spots to camp nearby or higher up the mountain. The question is whether or not it's worth carrying a tent through Mexico to avoid the hut. Higher camps lack reliable water sources adding another thing to consider when deciding whether or not to set a high camp.

3. For some one with limited conversational spanish, is this a trip that can easily be completed without the assistance of a guide?

We speak very little Spanish and had no problems. It was our first international trip at the time as well. Getting to the base of Orizaba on the bus system pretty much only requires the ability to say, "Capu" and "Tlachichuca."

4. I've never seen many pictures of people roped up on the glacier, are crevasse dangers minimal?

No crevasse danger to speak of on our trips. There was a tiny crevasse high up but not wide enough to fall in. The climb up the glacier reminded me a lot of climbing the Cristo Couloir on Quandary Peak.

As for the dangers in Mexico City, we didn't feel threatened at all. We were only there for a night on our first trip though. It's easy to avoid the city entirely though, there is bus station inside the airport so you can leave Mexico City without ever stepping outside of the airport.
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby Dave B » Tue Dec 14, 2010 7:32 pm

JB99 wrote:Thanks to everyone for contributing responses for my paper. I posted the finished version here: http://www.summitpost.org/a-colorado-climber-s-guide-to-the-roof-of-mexico/684957

I thought about posting it here as a trip report but since summitpost has a specific section for "how-to" articles it seemed more appropriate there. If enough people want I'll post a copy here as well though.

To answer Davey Rocket's questions:

1. What is the cost? Aconcagua ended up costing me about $4300 including airfare plus about $1200 in new gear... I'll be paying those student loans off for a while

I don't remember the exact cost but on our second trip we spent under $1,000 for me and the lady, including flights, food, transportation... everything. We didn't need to buy much additional gear beyond what we use for winter/spring climbing in Colorado. Aconcagua is a much more serious trip though so I don't know if comparing the costs is too relevant.

2. I'm sure sleeping in the cabins at 15,000 feet is nice, but seems a bit off to me as far as mountaineering goes, is it easy to bypass those?

The hut is pretty bare bones, not much more than a roof and a place to lay your sleeping pad. There are good spots to camp nearby or higher up the mountain. The question is whether or not it's worth carrying a tent through Mexico to avoid the hut. Higher camps lack reliable water sources adding another thing to consider when deciding whether or not to set a high camp.

3. For some one with limited conversational spanish, is this a trip that can easily be completed without the assistance of a guide?

We speak very little Spanish and had no problems. It was our first international trip at the time as well. Getting to the base of Orizaba on the bus system pretty much only requires the ability to say, "Capu" and "Tlachichuca."

4. I've never seen many pictures of people roped up on the glacier, are crevasse dangers minimal?

No crevasse danger to speak of on our trips. There was a tiny crevasse high up but not wide enough to fall in. The climb up the glacier reminded me a lot of climbing the Cristo Couloir on Quandary Peak.

As for the dangers in Mexico City, we didn't feel threatened at all. We were only there for a night on our first trip though. It's easy to avoid the city entirely though, there is bus station inside the airport so you can leave Mexico City without ever stepping outside of the airport.


Awesome, thanks for taking the time to answer those questions.

I'm hoping this may be my big trip for next year.

Cheers!
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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby CRAIGO » Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:00 pm

JB99 wrote:As for the dangers in Mexico City, we didn't feel threatened at all. We were only there for a night on our first trip though. It's easy to avoid the city entirely though, there is bus station inside the airport so you can leave Mexico City without ever stepping outside of the airport.


My 2 cents:
Mexico City is safe as long as you take authorized taxi's and stay in your hotel after dark. After Climbing Izta, I was so glad to have 2 sightseeing days in D.F. The food is some of the best I've had, and the museums and sights are awesome. If you're already there, D.F. has a lot to offer. I hope to go back again.

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Re: Have you climbed Orizaba?

Postby ScottN » Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:23 pm

We had a friend who owns a bed and breakfast in Mexico City when we were down there for the volcanoes. I dont know what neighborhood we were in, but it reminded me of the village in NYC. Lots of cantinas, bars, restaurants etc. She took us out to eat, then we went bar hopping on our own. I felt as safe as I would wandering around Manhattan. I'm sure there are lots of bad neighborhoods, but there's also some decent places too.

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