Exceeding Expectations on Orizaba Express
On December 6th, I arrived in Mexico City for my first high altitude expedition. The Orizaba Express trip was chosen to see how I can handle altitudes higher than what is offered in the lower 48 states. Since I’d be going to Mexico and exploring altitudes that were foreign to me, I needed to feel comfortable. Fortunately, I did from the very beginning.
Sunrise after the 3 am start for the summit. All photos: Josh Collman
My expectation for the adventure was to climb two mountains, stay at a few places, and hopefully feel rewarded for achieving my goal of summiting Pico de Orizaba, the third highest peak in North America at 18,404 feet. My expectation was exceeded! We had time to experience Mexican culture, fantastic cuisine, and enhance our mountaineering skills while our bodies were acclimating to altitude. We explored Aztec pyramids, stayed at a Hacienda built in the 1800s, and visited small villages. We became familiar with Mexico through the local people. It was a climbing adventure and an experience of a life time.
Roped glacier travel en route to the summit.
Mountain Madness provided an all-star climbing guide, Ricardo Lugo. As a native of Mexico, he has years of experience on Pico de Orizaba and other high peaks. He showed us proper high altitude technique while remaining patient and detailed. He made sure we were relaxed, hydrated, and fed. In addition, he was fun to be around. He didn’t miss a beat and I hope to climb with him and Mountain Madness again soon.
P.S. — I miss the food already!
~MM Climber Josh Collman