Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

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tremont
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Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by tremont »

Hi folks:

I’m planning out a trip to Pico de Orizaba this coming January. As I’m scoping out the route itself, I’m finding some conflicting information on the best choice of approach to the glacier. The two options once you reach the Portal at 4800m seem to be either bearing east up into the Labyrinth or continuing up south up alongside the Minotaur’s Tail and gaining the glacier that way. The Labyrinth route presents difficult route finding challenges while the direct route is more straightforward but steeper.

Does anyone have beta on the direct route up the drainage as opposed to the Labyrinth? I’ve read nothing good about the Labyrinth section except that it’s the least steep way to gain the glacier. Do snow conditions determine the choice of approach? Is it unwise to descend the Labyrinth if we haven’t scoped that way out on the way up? My party has experience on steep snow but I want to be fairly conservative if there are high-consequence sections on the direct way.

Thanks!
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nyker
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by nyker »

We did both when I was there, i.e. through the normal "route" up the Labyrinth (as a warm up climb to the edge of the glacier), then the more direct route on the actual climb later (it snowed the before that so the heavier snow made the more direct route better and more straightforward, though yes its steeper). I turned around the first attempt, but did this same route on my successful climb also. I didn't find that section hard, it was more like mixed terrain in Class 2-3 rock with some harder sections here and there. I found the hardest section the last 1,500 feet of vert, simply due to the altitude, I was moving pretty slow.
curt86iroc
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by curt86iroc »

its been a while for me, but I don't remember route-finding to be that bad. you kinda just pick the path of least resistance and keep going up towards the glacier...
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jbealer
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by jbealer »

When i climbed in 2019, there was just 2 of us, we hired a guide because if one of us got sick we wanted the other to make it. it was really cheap "insurance" and we did make the summit. the labyrinth was tricky, but he knew where to go, there are also other teams up there taking the same route you could follow as long as they do not get lost. I did not know there was a steeper option for a route. in the day light it was easy to navigate down and we took a different route back down. there are trails all over that section. it was all rock when we were there in early Dec.
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Justin9
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by Justin9 »

curt86iroc wrote: Mon Oct 03, 2022 10:40 am its been a while for me, but I don't remember route-finding to be that bad. you kinda just pick the path of least resistance and keep going up towards the glacier...
Yep, Pretty straight forward from what I remember. Routefinding through the labrynth should be the least of your worries. I'd be more concerned about stepping in poop outside the hut :shock:
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Scott P
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by Scott P »

Agree with the above that the labyrinth isn't that bad. You could always do it the day before in the light and for acclimatization, then you are familiar with the route before doing it in the dark.
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Trotter
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by Trotter »

All I can mention is that when we did it predawn, the little couloirs in it were so icy and hard it was quite dangerous with crampons even. It was safer scrambling up the rocks.

Go up the day before your ascent and check it out. Its good to have a couple extra days just for weather delays anyways.
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nyker
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by nyker »

Tremont, I think the common theme here is that similar to other mountains it depends on conditions and you should remain flexible. You're final decision of which route or which line on the same route may be a game day decision that morning.
tremont
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by tremont »

nyker wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2022 4:56 am Tremont, I think the common theme here is that similar to other mountains it depends on conditions and you should remain flexible. You're final decision of which route or which line on the same route may be a game day decision that morning.
Very true! Thanks for the input everyone. It seems like I overthought the Labyrinth route finding difficulty a bit but we’ll aim to do some recon in the daylight beforehand.
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12ersRule
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by 12ersRule »

I've read that the Mexican "glaciers" are a mess now. Is there a particular reason why you want to go after this route?

I'm going in November and trying to avoid as much snow as possible.
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Scott P
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by Scott P »

12ersRule wrote: Tue Oct 04, 2022 1:35 pm I've read that the Mexican "glaciers" are a mess now. Is there a particular reason why you want to go after this route?

I'm going in November and trying to avoid as much snow as possible.
The South Face is a scree pile, or so I've heard by those who have done it. I have only heard of one person actually enjoying that route

November usually has good snow conditions on the north side, though it does vary from year to year.

It's usually February and March that the glaciers deteriorate, but it can be in January too. Usually November is the best month.

Good luck whatever route you choose.
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Re: Pico de Orizaba - Labyrinth beta

Post by kushrocks »

Sadly the difference between when I was there in 2012 & 2013 vs 2020 was pretty big on the glacier part of the Labrynth. We went from a steep glacier climb in 2012 & 2013 to a total scree pile in 2020 with 0 snow or any sign of a glacier for another 700 or 800 ft higher. We didnt even hit the upper glacier until around 16,700 if I remember right. There are tons of groups going up and carins to follow so I wouldnt worry too much about route finding. I'd call it class 2+ low 3 loose rock if its anything like 2020. Ive gone in early March all 3 times. Hope this helps.
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