Expedition Info

Oct. 23-Nov. 1
Nov. 4-13

El Pico de Orizaba:


Willi Prittie or
Tom Bridge
Jamie Pierce

Climbing Level/

Advanced beginner with
ice axe, crampon and snow/ice experience. 6-day Mt. Baker Mountaineering Course or equivalent

$2,000 (dates and prices may be subject to change)

From the Bookstore

Mountaineering -- Freedom of the Hills

by Don Graydon

Classic climbing course text; solid info on all aspects of mountain, rock and ice climbing. Available in paperback.

Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue

by Andy Selters

Characteristics of glaciers, crevasse rescue, route finding, gear, etc; includes special skiing info.

Ice World -- Techniques & Experiences Of Modern Ice Climbing
by Jeff Lowe

Comprehensive, state-of-the-art how to on various terrain: snow climbing, glacier travel, climbing mixed ice & rock.

"A Short History of Mexico"
by Rodman, Selden

"Mexico: Places and Pleasures"
by Simon, Kate

"Two Wheels & Taxi"
by Urrutia, Virginai

"Exploring South America"
by McIntyre, Loren

"Sons of the Moon"
by Shukman, Henry

"The Old Patagonian Express: By Train through the Americas"
by Theroux, Paul

"The Anciet Sun Kingdoms of the Americas"
by Van Hagen, Victor

"On The Road to Tetlama: Mexican Adventures of a Wandering Naturalist"
by Conrad, Jim

"Terra Nostra"
by Fuentes, Carlos

"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"
by Traven, B.

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Mexico Volcanoes
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In the heart of Mexico, about 800 miles south of the United States border, rise the third and seventh highest mountains in North America. El Pico de Orizaba (also known as Chitlalcotepetl 18,850ft.) and Iztaccihuatl ("Izta" 17,343ft.) rise impressively above the central plateau. This fall we will attempt to summit these two volcanoes. These two ascents are by far the most attractive climbs in Mexico. Alpine Ascents' expedition provides a fantastically rich experience for the advanced beginner/intermediate climber. What continually makes these Mexican volcanoes so attractive is the relatively small cost it requires to participate in a successful international high altitude expedition.

Our expedition lasts nine days during which we will attempt to summit these ancient peaks. In fact the mountains date back 10 million years, while their present shape can be dated at 2.5 million years. They provide a good introduction to high altitude mountaineering. For those interested in high altitude challenges, climbing the volcanoes of Mexico provide an excellent opportunity to begin developing the experience and skill necessary to succeed in the world's highest mountains. Successful ascents will provide the climber with a strong sense of their individual ability to handle altitude. They are also a wonderful destination in their own right.

Legend of Popo and Izta
This traditional story is well known throughout the Puebla regions and is quite famous throughout all of Mexico. As the legend goes, while Popo, the Smoking Warrior was at war the emperor's beautiful daughter, Izta, died of heartache. When he returned and learned of her death he built two mountains. On one he laid her body and on the other he stood holding a funeral torch. Some days it still appears as if Itza is stretched on her back while the steam of Popo watches over her. And given its recent activity, many are reluctant to forego the romantic imagery of this great "Smoking Mountain".

Iztaccihuatl is crowned with snow and ice which form small glaciers at the higher elevations. There are relatively few crevasses to be found. For our summit attempt we will depart by 2:00am, enabling us to be high on the mountain by sunrise. Additionally this will provide extra hours at the higher elevations to ensure a gradual safe ascent. Izta is known in Aztec mythology as the "sleeping lady." When we speak of Izta we use body terms to describe parts of the mountain: la caballera - the hair, la caveza - the head, la orega - the ear, etc. Izta poses a challenging climb with many false summits on the approach.

After completing Izta we will take one day to rest and regroup before we advance to our second objective, El Pico de Orizaba. Orizaba stands as North America's third highest summit. It is an eroded volcano which still retains most of its symmetrical shape. While the summit is heavily glaciated, these glaciers have very few crevasses, enabling the beginning climber to develop skills and encounter only relatively few danger spots. Because of its great height, it provides a wonderful first experience with high altitude along with fantastic panoramic views.

Those wishing to participate in this trip must posses basic mountaineering skills. These peaks, along with most other high altitude mountains in the world, lack suitable low altitude areas to practice skills. Please contact Alpine Ascents International's office for consultation.

1997 Recap
In 1997, we ran a very successful expedition and had outstanding evaluations from all climbers. Climbing in excellent conditions, we had 100% summit success with Jamie Pierce leading all climbers to the summits of both Izta and Orizaba. We encourage you to contact last year's climbers.

Your Guides
Alpine Ascents International's guiding staff is the finest available. You will be climbing with one the world's most renowned guides thus providing an outstanding combination of safety and experience. Many of our guides have historical achievements synonymous with their names. Our guides are known for not only the climbing skill level but their abilities to guide and instruct other climbers. Your expedition will be led by Willi Prittie, Tom Bridge, or Jamie Pierce. Assisting our guides will be local guides and assistants who are intimately connected to the area and indigenous cultures.

Tom Bridge
Tom's outstanding knowledge of climbing and guiding is marked by 10 years of experience. He's spent a good part of the last seven years climbing in the North Cascades, summiting over 250 peaks including a number of first ascents and winter ascents. He is an expert in wilderness safety and an instructor for Wilderness First Responder. He has had outstanding success both at our mountaineering school, our Mexico Volcanoes expeditions and Aconcagua.

Willi Prittie
Willi Prittie has been guiding, teaching and leading domestic and international expeditions for over twenty years. Director of the North Cascades Mountaineering School, Willi is considered one of the premier instructors in America, and has worked as an AMGA accreditation examiner. Fluent in Spanish and well versed in South American culture he has developed an outstanding reputation for leading safe and successful trips to Cho-Oyu, Denali and throughout South America, including over ten ascents of Aconcagua.

Jamie Pierce
Jamie's wealth of knowledge and expertise has been a huge asset to our guiding team. He has taught climbing throughout the United States and possesses a particular aptitude in training others. Jamie is a leading expert on Antarctica where he has spent five seasons climbing and supporting field research. Jamie also has a wealth of international guiding experience having led climbs to Elbrus, Mexico's Volcanoes and a variety of climbs in Africa, France, Switzerland, Bolivia, Argentina, New Zealand and Canada. A charismatic and natural leader, Jamie leads numerous courses at our Mountaineering School and leads climbs to Mexico's Volcanoes, the Alps, and Kilimanjaro.

Expedition Itinerary
Day 1: Flight to Mexico City. We begin our journey with a day in the cultural center of Mexico City where, if time permits, we will visit the world-renown National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) situated in Chapultepec Park. Its 22 rooms house relics dating from the beginning of civilization through the present day. We will spend the night in Mexico City and prepare for our trip.

Day 2: We travel by 4X4 to the small town of Amecameca (8,200ft). Situated in the highlands, it rests at the base of Volcanoes National Park along the foothills of the mountains. In this the first phase of acclimatization we will spend the afternoon and evening enjoying this beautiful traditional town. The marketplace is filled with foods and spices indigenous to this Puebla area while the surrounding countryside is covered by rich vegetation. We have found the local people gentile, warm and hospitable.

Days 3-4: We leave Tlachichuca for our first objective, Iztaccihuatl. On the ride via 4X4, we pass through small farms and pine forests on the way to Paso de Cortez, the 12,000ft pass between Popo and Izta. The Tlamacas Lodge is a short way south toward Popo and is situated at 12,950ft. Great views of both Popo and Izta can be had from the lodge. We will relax here for the afternoon and spend the next day acclimatizing in preparation for an early morning summit departure.

Day 5: We depart on foot from the lodge at 2:00am. The sunrise has proved to be exquisite and finds us climbing high on the mountain. We don crampons and ice axe for the upper regions of the volcano where we will encounter an easy rock ridge, navigate across ice cliffs and finally traverse into a couloir just before our final push to the summit. Expansive views begin to open as we near the top. Viewing the deep summit crater it is easy to visualize the geologic cataclysms which created these giant mountains. By late afternoon, we return to the Tlamacas Lodge for a much deserved rest and a good night's sleep.

Day 6: Our second objective is Mexico's highest mountain, known as Citlalcotepetl or El Pico de Orizaba. At 18,850ft, it stands almost 1,000ft higher than Popo. Its name means "Mountain of the Star." The day after our ascent of Izta, we drive to Piedra Grande on the lower slopes of Orizaba.

Days 7-8: Our ascent of Orizaba is similar to Itzta, we begin before dawn to take advantage of optimum snow conditions and provide ample time to complete our first leg of the climb before dark. En route we will climb through a rock ravine, make a moderate roped ascent and traverse a series of cravasses. Here we will set high camp and prepare ourselves for an early morning departure for the summit. On the final stretch we'll maneuver the ridge along the crater's edge. From the summit, we scan the Gulf of Mexico to the east and the central plateau to the west. .

Days 9-10: We return to Mexico City and spend the night. There will be time for shopping and exploring this bustling city. The next morning we will depart and head home.

Personal Safety
Your safety while participating in this expedition is one of our prime concerns, and we therefore provide you with the best equipment available. All guides are well versed in wilderness first-aid techniques. Ultimately your guide makes decisions with your comfort and safety in mind, and yet tries to maximize the experience of the adventure for each individual. For your own safety, it is important that you are comfortable with standard climbing techniques and the use of climbing equipment.

Alpine Ascents is proud of its outstanding environmental record. It is our standard practice to remove all trash and traces of our expedition and leave the environment with only our footprints.

-- Gordon Janow, Alpine Ascents Program Coordinator

Land Costs Include:

  • All in-country transportation
  • Hotels accommodations
  • All group camp supplies, such as tents, stoves, etc.
  • All group climbing gear
  • All meals while climbing
  • All hut fees, park fees and permit

    Land Costs Do Not Include:

  • International round-trip airfare USA-Mexico
  • Meals in Mexico City, Amecameca (and Tlamacas)
  • Personal gear (see gear list)
  • Excess baggage charges and airport taxes
  • Personal items
  • Trip cancellation insurance
  • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond
  • the control of Alpine Ascents

    [See the Gear List]

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