Peak(s):  Izta - 17159
Malinche - 14636
Pico de Orizaba - 18491
Date Posted:  12/15/2016
Modified:  12/31/2016
Date Climbed:   12/04/2016
Author:  AnnaG22
 Winging It in Mexico   

Logistics learned first, story later.

Izta: A passenger car *can* get to the visitor center around 13k in the Izta-Popo park, contrary to what my companions and I thought before arriving there. Clearance and good tires are still helpful, of course. While we were there, the pass was closed at the visitor center, and there is a blockade preventing driving to Puebla, so it currently is only accessible from Amecameca. I'm not sure when that will change.
Of note: the gate to the La Joya bunkhouse closes around 8-9pm each night. It opens at 6am. From the estimates I can find, it is somewhere in the ballpark of 9-10 miles roundtrip and 5000-6000 vertical. Roughly half is above 16,000 feet. It took our group about 9.5 hours total, about 5.5 up and 4 down. It was also incredibly exhausting. It reminded me of the Tenmile traverse in terms of physical exertion.

Malinche: I had a hard time finding out details about transportation to and from Malinche before the trip. Here is what we learned. If taking buses from Puebla, you have two choices. First (which I found very vague details about beforehand) you can take a bus to Apizaco then get another bus to the Centro Vacicionale IMSS Malintzi (resort that is basically the trailhead). Second, you can take a bus from Puebla to C.V.M. The first option has frequent buses, BUT Apizaco is a midway stop, not the final destination. It comes about 75 minutes into the ride, so it's important to pay close attention...the driver will not announce the names of stops, and you don't want to end up in a random mountain town where small children point and laugh at you. If you take the Apizaco option, a great hotel and restaurant is La Posada, where you can get a 2 bed room for about $27 USD a night. The small white collectivo vans are the "buses" to look for in getting from Apizaco to C.V.M., and should even have C.V.M. or C.V.Malintzi in the front window. If you want to explore other things around Apizaco with a local, there's a young gentleman named Esteban Duran Valencia who spent two years in the states as a teenager, speaks great English, and in general is a bueno hombre. His family runs a tire shop on one of the main streets just off the roundabout.
The second option is actually cheaper, and will give you something resembling a Mexican chicken bus experience. From Puebla, you can pay 60 pesos to get to C.V.M. The bus company that drives this route is called UTP. From what we could tell, there are only a few buses a day. The afternoon bus arrives at C.V.M. around 5-5.30 and leaves back to Puebla promptly.
Malinche has a pretty clear trail until very close to the top, and even then it's fairly discernible. My estimates from what I've been able to find indicate that it's 10-11 miles roundtrip and ~4000 vertical. It took us 4 hours up at a moderate pace and 75 minutes down (we might've run a bit).

Orizaba: I'm going to echo SurfnTurf: STAY. WITH. THE. CANCHOLAS. They are such kind, warm people. It cost us $185/person for two nights at the hostel, four meals, transportation to and from Piedra Grande, unlimited drinking water, and gas canisters. Tlachichuca is also a really beautiful, safe town based on our experience. It's pretty cool to just stroll around town (and gaze up at Orizaba if it's peeking out of the clouds).
We saw few tents spots at Piedra Grande. While we were there, the bunkhouse was full of Mexican military, but the yellow metal "guesthouse" which could probably fit up to 6 people in a squeeze is still in decent condition, so we holed up in there.
Since we had to push up our summit attempt due to weather, we got to find out what it was like to hike after spending only 10 hours at 14,000 feet. It took us about 2.75 hours to get from Piedra Grande to the base of the glacier, which seems to have receded at least 500 feet since 2009 based on some pictures we saw from a trip report dated that year. From there to the summit took us somewhere between 4.25 and 4.5 hours. I started the glacier taking a breath for roughly every two steps. By the time we reached the summit, I was taking two to three breaths per step, and even then occasionally pausing for longer. But between that and taking several ibuprofen over the course of the ascent, my only physical complaint was a very minor headache. The descent took us about 3.5 hours at a leisurely pace. Stats: 6-7 miles roundtrip and 4500 vertical. We did see several cracks in the glacier, but no obvious crevasses.

Full trip report here: A Jaunt to Mexican Volcanoes

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
01/01/2017 18:18
Going in march after Izta and Orizaba, this updated info will be useful. thanks

01/04/2017 21:45
I can totally relate to the paragraph where you start: "Somewhere in the 18,000 foot realm, I started to feel desperate."...ugh I felt the same up there! You were more brave staying on top for 30min. I wanted to get down in case AMS hit. Congrats!

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