Mexico City to Amecameca, Altzomoni

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Day 2, Mexican Thanksgiving:
Bus to Amecameca, taxi to Altzomoni Lodge (13k)

After our long flight yesterday, we got up fairly early and had the buffet breakfast at the hotel. Both the hotel and the restaurant prices would be spendy in the U.S. If you want advice on how to do this whole trip better, let me know...

But back to the story. After breakfast, we grabbed a cab and went to TAPO, the Mexico City bus station. This place is amazing. With Mariel interpreting, we soon had our tickets and were loaded on the bus to Amecameca.

I wasn't overwhelmed by Mexico city, but it was definitely making an impression. Both mentally, and on my sinuses, due to the extreme air pollution. It was nice to finally get out of there.

Overview

After a couple of hours, we were in Amecameca. This smaller town sits at about 8000' and had an astounding view of Izta.

When we got off the bus, we waddled out onto the sidewalk with our loads and started looking for a taxi. When we found one, he explained that the Hotel San Carlos was only about a block away. So we dragged our gear across the zocalo (city square found in every Mexican town) and checked into a room with a single bed for two nights. We got a single bed because we had no intention of sleeping there; it was just a cheap place to stash our gear (~$10/night).

Izta

Then we went next door to the headquarters for the Parc Nationale and arranged our passes. Izta is in the Izta/Popo national park, so there are several requirements. You have to have a pass to climb, and also one to drive to the trailhead at La Joya (12,900'). In addition, we wanted to stay at the Altzomoni "lodge," a crude bunkhouse on the property of a large microwave station at 13,000'. From the office in Amecameca, they were able to radio up and make sure there was room for us.

Also while at the office, we met César, who was chatting with the park manager. The guide books all say to avoid unsanctioned taxis, but it was just too easy so we arranged for César to drive us up to the lodge at 1pm.

That gave us an hour and a half to buy food and water, plus a cartridge for my stove. There was a big mercado on the square where we bought 9 liters of water. And we found a hardware store around the corner where we found the hair-spray-can shaped propane cartridge.

Ten minutes before 1, we lugged our stuff out to the front of the hotel to find César already there and waiting. The fact that he was wearing driving gloves made me a bit nervous, as did his beat up old Chrysler sedan. But we were off.

After a winding and bumpy paved climb to the park's visitor center, we got our wrist bands and headed through the gate up the dirt road to Altzomoni. I could hear the bottom of César's car dragging, but he seemed fine with the sandy ruts and occasional rocks. I feared for his tires.

Then we turned off the main road and headed for Altzomoni on a much rockier road that also included sections of hand-paving where rocks were placed like ultra-rough cobbles to maintain the road bed. But we made it. Here you can see the pollution-- except that this is looking east toward Puebla, not west toward Mexico City, which was much worse but didn't make much of a picture.

Popo

But at Altzomoni, we were up above it in the sunshine. It was brisk with a light breeze, but in a protected area in the sun, we sat out and read our books in t-shirts. That's Popo behind us to the south. You can't climb Popo because it is active; that's not just clouds on top, but also a continuous stream of smoke coming out of the crater.

Popo
Looking north, you can see Iztaccihuatl, our objective for the next day. For a longer diatribe on Izta, check out the SummitPost page. Popo

The dormitory consists of three rooms, each with a number of bunks. It looked a little strange, but was actually pretty comfortable.

Our room had bunks for eight, a picnic table, a second table with metal cover to put a stove on, plus a fireplace. Electric light. The toilet at the end of the hall wasn't hooked up to a water source, but you could dip a bucket of water from a barrel and dump the water in to sort of flush.

Bunks

Also at Altzomoni, we met Lawrence. Lawrence was climbing as the only client of Oso, who runs Orizaba Mountain Guides. Oso was busy setting up for the season, so Lawrence was somewhat lonely. We ended up hanging out with him the whole week and became fast friends.

I recognized Oso immediately from trip reports I had read. You'll see pictures of both later in this story.

Later that evening, some other folks also showed up at the dormitory- hooray for earplugs.

Lawrence and Oso were going to leave around 1 (or so we thought), driving over to La Joya, the trailhead. Because we were walking the mile and a half, we decided we had better follow about the same schedule, shooting for a midnight wake-up. After going to bed at about 8, we were both awake at about 10 with headaches. I fought it off for about an hour without sleep, finally taking an ibuprofen and getting about 45 minutes of good sleep before the alarm went off. Time to get up and start the day.

Mr. Natural Home | 2008 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski