We enjoyed a great climb to the top of Pico de Orizaba today, with good route conditions, excellent weather and all team members reaching the summit!
We left our private base camp near the popular Piedra Grande Refuge at 1 a.m., then picked our way up scree slopes to the toe of the Jamapa Glacier at about 16,500 feet with the lights of Tlachichuca twinkling below us. The bottom of the glacier was icy, so we swung to the right to join the Espolón de Oró (Ridge of Gold), a variation on the standard Jamapa Glacier Route that approaches the summit via somewhat lower angle slopes. As we ascended, route conditions improved until we were climbing efficiently up a well-established track in good styrofoam snow. We stepped onto the top of the third highest peak in North America at about 8 a.m., an hour earlier than we had expected.
With cold temperatures in the forecast, we had braced for a chilly, short stay on the summit. Instead, the weather was ideal — relatively warm and no wind. We took our time, snapping photos and enjoying views of Orizaba’s precipitous summit crater and plumes of smoke rising from Popocatépetl to the west. Then we descended back to camp and transferred via 4WD back to our lodge in Zoapan for a late lunch.