Mexican Thanksgiving


A climbing trip to Mexico introduces us to high altitude.

After a lot of planning and fretting, it was finally the day before our departure. Mariel showed up early in the afternoon and we went through gear, using the list I had built and shared, and revised multiple times (and she had begun to ignore... coming as it was from her obsessive dad).

Then in a last minute web search of trip reports, I found plane tickets that depressed me. They were far, far superior to those I had already purchased- check out I didn't even mind that ours were more expensive; these new ones offered a much shorter flight time, fewer connections, and better schedule. Oh well- we were locked and loaded.

Note that the schedule we ended up with was a bit different than what we planned. I explain the changes on the report for that day.



I've read that people with no Spanish at all have made this trip successfully. I know just enough Spanish to ask for beer, so Mariel was our interpreter. She says her Spanish is pretty rough, but I think she did a great job. She only used the phrase book once. We did run into situations where no English was available, but we never had any real problems.


Pico de Orizaba

Our peaks sit just outside Mexico City, with Itza about 40 miles away as the crow flies (and two hours as the bus crawls). You can see all three peaks, Itza, Popo, and Pico de Orizaba, from the airplane on the final approach to the Mexico City airport (if you look before the pollution gets too thick).

The climbing season is generally December to March. We chose this week because it fit in my school schedule. Early in the season probably provides better snow conditions, later provides better weather. If I had a choice, I would also try to climb during a full moon (we had almost a new moon). Summer is the rainy season.

Warning: I might have made this whole trip sound pretty easy. Be aware that people get AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) including HAPE and HACE at elevations well below those climbed on this trip (if you're not familiar with these, see the National Institutes of Health explanation of AMS. This trip report of Orizaba from SummitPost is a recent example. Don't take the altitude lightly; we didn't and I was quite worried about how compressed our schedule was, despite considerable preparation before we went. Mariel lives at 6000' and had been regularly staying at a cabin at 8500'. And I had been above 10k every weekend for the previous eight weeks, as you can see on my 2008 home page. Even with our preparation, we had the first symptoms (both headaches and nausea).

Our actual schedule:

Note: If you are seeking advice on doing this trip or something similar, feel free to contact me. Some of what we did was really successful, other things I'd change. If I can help you, I'd be happy to share my thoughts.

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