Tag: Mexico Volcanoes

Congratulations to our Mexico Volcanoes team that went two for two by submitting Pico de Orizaba today!  Lead guide, Terray Sylvester, has this recap of their summit day:

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.

Orizaba mountain shadow

Orizaba mountain shadow

As the Mexico Volcanoes team makes their way from Puelba, Mexico to the start of their Pico de Orizaba climb, lead guide, Terray Sylvester, provides this update:

We are en route to the mountain. We’ll stop at Zoapan for lunch in our lodge there, and then take a 4WD to our private base camp near Piedra Grande Refuge below the Jamapa Glacier.


The plan is to start early and summit tomorrow via the Espolón de Oró, a slight variation that is currently in better condition than the more standard Jamapa Glacier route.


We had a relaxing day in Puebla yesterday, with visits to the main cathedral on the zócalo near our hotel, a photo exhibition and great food!


We will be in limited communications, but you can follow our progress up the mountain with this real-time tracking map:  https://madisonmountaineering.com/maps/mexico-2019

Climbers John and Kris enjoying San Miguel Zoapan

Climbers John and Kris enjoying San Miguel Zoapan

Enjoying the delicious food of Mexico

Enjoying the delicious food of Mexico

Christmas lights of Mexico

Christmas lights of Mexico

Lead guide, Terray Sylvester, provided this recap of yesterday’s summit climb of Mexico‘s Iztaccihuatl.  Way to go team!

We had a great climb on Iztaccihuatl with excellent weather and 100% success!


Our day started early with a midnight wake up at the Altzomoni Refuge at the foot of the mountain. We had originally considered launching our summit bid from a high camp, but the mountain is extremely dry right now and no running water or snow was available at the camps we considered. Since we have a strong, well-acclimatized team we decided to skip high camp entirely in favor of a one-day ascent that would allow us to enjoy the entirety of the route with light summit packs. Our decision was also influenced by the fact that we had the usually popular Altzomoni Refuge all to ourselves, ensuring that we’d have space and quiet to relax and fuel up before our ascent.


Iztaccihuatl means the “white woman” or the “sleeping woman,” so named for the way the volcano’s multiple summits resemble the features of a person lying down when viewed from the west. By 1 a.m. we were climbing past “los pies,” the feet, with Popocatépetl rising behind us in a starry sky and coyotes yipping in the valley below. The climb went smoothly with only a short section of ice that demanded crampons, and eight hours later we stood on top of Mexico’s third highest peak under clear, sunny skies with a light breeze. We had the summit all to ourselves.


After an uneventful descent we transferred to our hotel one block from the main square in nearby Puebla. We’ll relax here for the next 36 hours and then head to our next objective, Orizaba! And in the mean time, we’ll likely enjoy a celebratory cerveza.


Within the past hour, our Mexico Volcanoes expedition team reached the summit of the third highest peak in Mexico, Iztacihuatl (5230m / 17,160 ft)!  They are on their way down now.  Their track to the summit left the La Joyita trailhead and gained over 1310m (4,300 ft) of elevation gain over 5.67km to reach the summit in just about 8 hours.  Whew!

We will have some pictures to share when they are back down.  Meanwhile, here are a few shots from yesterday to enjoy.

Next up:  Pico de Orizaba (5636m/18,490ft), Mexico’s highest mountain and the third highest in North America.

Our lead guide, Terray Sylvester, checks in as the Mexico Volcanoes team makes their way from Mexico City into the mountains:

Hello from Mexico!


All is well here. We were unable to get space tonight at Altzomoni Refuge due to the busy holiday weekend, but the rangers tell us we have reservations for tomorrow. For now, we’re sleeping in a campsite near the visitor center at Paso de Cortés, a bit lower.


We had a good visit to the anthropology museum today, then lunch in Amecameca and arrived here between Popo and Izta late in the afternoon with excellent views of the mountains. The weather is beautiful and we’re anticipating a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, frijoles, and fresh fruit in the morning with Emilio, the Mexican guide who’s climbing with us. We’ll then move up to Altzomoni and head out for an acclimatization rotation.


It’s a festive atmosphere here. People have gathered for star watching parties near the visitor center, and we’re anticipating hundreds of people on the climbing trail tomorrow. Though fortunately, most of the crowds will likely thin out by the time we head to our high camp on Monday.


The lack of space at Altzomoni forced us to scramble a bit for a campsite, but everyone is happy. This is a peaceful campsite.



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The Mexico Volcanoes are a great way to gain high altitude climbing experience on glaciated peaks in a relatively short time frame. Traveling in this region of Mexico is very safe, and easily accessible from the United States. Orizaba, at 18, 860’ is the third highest peak in North America. Neighboring Izta, the “sleeping lady” at 17,350’ is the seventh highest on the continent. We spend time visiting the historic city of Puebla between climbing these volcanoes, and have ample time as well for the museum of anthropology in Mexico City. The combination of rich cultural experience along with high altitude glacier climbing make this program a great value given the short time period in which we can accomplish so much. These peaks are a wonderful way to get acquainted with climbing at altitude, in preparation for a longer and more demanding climb such as Aconcagua, the Ecuador Volcanoes, or Denali.

We regularly organize custom programs for private groups. We are happy to accommodate your program dates, as well as other specific requests related to the itinerary, amenities, and group size. Please contact us to find out more about custom programs.

Day 1: Depart country of residence and arrive in Mexico City. We will pick you up at the airport and check in at our hotel in the heart of the city. After an equipment check and orientation we will enjoy a welcome dinner together at one of the many fine restaurants that serve traditional Mexican cuisine.

Day 2: We depart our hotel after breakfast, then spend a few hours in the museum of Anthropology reviewing the fascinating history of Aztec and Toltec ancient civilization before heading to the village of Amecameca, and then on to the Altzimoni hut on Izta, at 14,000’. Across the plain we can see the neighboring peak Popo.

Day 3: Today we go for an acclimatization hike from our hut to around 15,000’, enjoying a picnic style lunch on the trail with incredible views, and then return to our hut for dinner. From our hut we have a nice view of the “Paseo de Cortes” the mountain Pass that Hernando Cortes and his men crossed to fine the city of Tenochticlan.

Day 4: We climb to our high camp at 14,950’ and review proper techniques for using the ice axe, crampons, and climbing rope. After an early dinner we go to bed in preparation for an ‘alpine start.’

Day 5: We leave camp before dawn and climb to the Ayaloco glacier. From here we rope up and don crampons and ice axe, then climb snow slopes to the summit ridge, and then to the true summit of Izta. The view is amazing, and after a rest we descend to camp. We pack up our camp and continue our descent to the trail head where we drive to the City of Puebla. Here we will spend two nights in a nice hotel, touring this historical city and many fine restaurants.

Day 6: Rest day in Puebla, pack and organize gear for Orizaba.

Day 7: We depart Puebla after breakfast and drive to the village of Tlachichuca. Here we have lunch at our outfitter’s house, then transfer our gear into his 4 X 4 jeeps and begin the drive up to the Piedra Grande Hut (14,100’).

Day 8: We climb to our high camp on Orizaba and after dinner prepare for another ‘alpine start’.

Day 9: We leave before dawn, and gain the glacier where we rope up and don crampons and ice axe. From here we ascend the final 2,000’ to the summit of Orizaba, the highest volcano in North America. We descend to camp, pack up our belongings, then continue to the Piedra Grande hut where our outfitter will meet us. We drive back to Tlachichuca and then to Mexico City where we spend the night in a hotel.

Day 10: We depart Mexico for our country of residence.

Mexico Volcanoes Climb: $3,650
Deposit: $1,700

2020 Departures:
October 3-12
October 17-26

Costs Include:
• Airport pick up upon arrival
• 2 nights hotel accommodation in Mexico City and 2 nights hotel accommodation in Puebla (double occupancy)
• All group gear such as ropes, tents, cooking equipment, VHF radios, satellite phone, etc.
• All food while climbing
• Climbing permits, hut fees, Park entrance fees
• All transport in Mexico
• Mountain guides
• Porters (for carrying gear to high camps)
• Museum entrance fees

Costs Do Not Include:
• Airfare
• Personal Items
• Trip Cancellation Insurance
• Fees for early departure
• Wire transfer fees
• Option to upgrade to single room

Cancellation/Refund Policy
• There are no refunds for the deposit or balance payments for this expedition. This includes but is not limited to, expeditions that conclude without a summit or progress towards a summit for participants due to route conditions, weather, insufficient manpower, or any other factor outside the control of Madison Mountaineering. Expedition leader has the final say on the expedition conclusion and will make all best efforts within our margin of safety.
• Participants that choose to leave an active expedition for any reason are not entitled to any refunds
• Madison Mountaineering, LLC highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions
• Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Madison Mountaineering must adhere to a stringent refund policy
• Deposit due with registration materials
• All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified
• Participants whose balances are not received by the 120-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their funds and their place on the expedition

Note: Madison Mountaineering, LLC reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible. Deposits paid by participants acknowledge the above cancellation terms.

• Ice Axe: A mountaineering ice axe with straight shaft, generally a 60-65 cm ice axe will work well.
• Crampons: Mountaineering crampons rather than water ice climbing crampons.
• Trekking poles: Adjustable poles
• Climbing Harness: An alpine style climbing harness
• Carabineers: 2 locking
• Mountaineering boots: A double plastic or well insulated mountaineering boot with removable liners is preferable.
• Gaiters: to fit over your boots, these help keep small rocks and dirt out of your boots.
• Mountaineering Socks (3 Pair): Wool or Synthetic
• Liner Socks (3 Pair): A thin sock to be worn under the mountaineering sock to reduce friction.
• Camp booties: Optional
• Toe Warmers: Optional
• Underwear (1-2): Synthetic is best
• Long underwear pants (2-3 pair): 2 pair of lightweight and 1 pair medium or heavy weight.
• Long underwear shirts (1-2 pair): 1-2 pair of lightweight, and 1 medium or heavy weight. These should be long sleeve.
• Insulated Jacket: This can be a lightweight down or prima loft jacket, fleece jacket, or soft shell jacket.
• Hard Shell Jacket: A waterproof and breathable jacket designed to be worn in rain, snow, and high wind.
• Hard Shell Pants: A waterproof and breathable pant designed to be worn in rain, snow, and high wind. Full side zippers on each pant is preferable.
• Expedition Down Parka: A very substantial down parka with minimum 800 fill down. This can be worn over all layers.
• Insulated Pants: Prima loft or down pants, full side zippers are preferable.
• Warm Hat: Wool or fleece.
• Balaclava: to protect your neck and face.
• Buff or Bandana: To cover your face and neck, can keep out the dust.
• Sun hat: A baseball style hat or other sun hat.
• Glacier Glasses: dark lenses that wrap around
• Goggles: To be worn in high winds
• Liner Gloves: Fleece or wool
• Soft Shell Gloves: for cold and windy conditions
• Heavy Glove or Mitten: with removable liners
• Hand warmers: Optional
• Expedition Backpack: An 65 liter internal frame back pack.
• Sleeping Bag: Rated to at least -10 °F. Down is preferable over synthetic.
• Compression stuff sacks: for reducing the volume of your sleeping bag and down parka.
• Self Inflating pad: A full length air mattress
• Closed Cell foam pad: Full length is best
• Headlamp: Bring a spare set of batteries
• Cup: 16oz. minimum
• Bowl: ½ liter minimum capacity
• Spoon: Plastic (lexan)
• Sunscreen: SPF 50 or stronger
• Lip screen: SPF 30 or stronger
• Water bottles: 2 bottles with 1 liter capacity each
• Water Purification System: Tablets or Steripen
• Pee Bottle: 1 liter capacity minimum
• Pee Funnel: For Women
• Knife: Optional
• Toiletry Bag: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, baby wipes, etc.
• Hand Sanitizer: 2 small bottles
• Hand warmers / Toe warmers: 3 sets of each
• Trash Compactor bags (4): To line stuff sacks and separate gear
• Camera: lightweight with extra batteries
• Travel Clothes: For days in Mexico City & in Puebla.
• Large Duffel Bag with lock: for transporting all personal gear.
• Small duffel bag: to store items in the hotels.
• Small Personal First Aid Kit: Athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofen, Moleskin, blister care products, personal medications, cough drops.
  ‣ Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude illness
  ‣ Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxin or Azithromycin for gastro intestinal or respiratory illness
  ‣ Ibuprofen for muscle soreness
  ‣ Excedrin for headaches  ‣ Anti-nausea medications.
• Climbing Snacks:
  ‣ Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix: Bring a supply for 6 days.
  ‣ Energy Gel: Single serving gel packs such as GU, Clifshot, Powergel, etc.)
  ‣ Energy Bars: Power bar, Cliff bar, etc.
  ‣ Candy Bars: Snickers, Mars, Twix, Milky Way, etc.

Madison Mountaineering is recognized for well thought out strategy in high altitude climbing expeditions, as well as high-quality service throughout. Because we have two decades of experience in the planning and coordination of mountaineering expeditions, our reputation is excellent. We strive to make each expedition the best possible experience for our climbers and focus on our 3 primary goals of success in reaching the summit, returning safely, and having fun!

Our guides are some of the best and most experienced in the industry, having a strong grasp of technical climbing, expedition, and high altitude experience, along with strong interpersonal skills. Our teams are small and equipped with the best support available to ensure the highest chance of success. We are renowned for our comfortable base camps, high-quality food, first-rate communications, and medical support services, all of which are overseen by a professional member of our team.

Most of our climbers have either climbed with us before, been referred by a friend who has climbed with us, or met one of our teams while attempting another peak and decided to join us for their next expedition. We work hard to facilitate safe, successful, and enjoyable expeditions for all of our climbers. Our track record and past climber testimonials prove we are not only experts in our field, but we also love what we do!

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