Leaders: Keith Sullivan, Leon Tokatlian
Pico De Orizaba Trip 2004 December 3 to 13.
Participants were Dave Bailey, Ree Guiford, Mitch Manseau, Bill Duncanson, Tom Renault and Dave Atchinson.
In Mexico City we met the rest of the group rented 2 vans and left the airport destination Puebla, based on previous year experience we exited the City much faster except this time we were spotted and stopped at a rotary by corrupt police asking bribe, after a long negotiation we agreed to pay $50.00 and on our way.
We arrived in Puebla late afternoon to start our acclimatizing at 7090’ elevation, after settling in our hotel we played tourist and walked around the old historic city had a nice dinner and retired.
Next morning after breakfast we loaded the vans and drove to La Malinche National Park 10,115’ on the way we stopped at road side open markets to buy local fruits, snacks, peanuts.
At LaMalinche we had full cabin with 9 comfortable bunk beds the cabin has a hot shower and a kitchen area, after setting our packs we went for a short hike up 11,000’ to continue our acclimatizing process, next morning we hiked Mt. LaMalinche 14,640’ to expose ourselves to higher elevation, we returned to the cabin cleaned up and drove to a near by historical village for dinner, unfortunately the restaurant that we liked previous year was out of business, returned and spent our second night in the cabin.
Next morning after breakfast we hiked to acclimatize further, returned to cabin loaded the vans and drove to Tlachichuca, checked at hotel Gerard and organized gear for next day.
Next morning after breakfast we loaded 2 antique trucks and headed to base camp of Orizaba, it took us over 3 hours on dusty rough road on the way up we stopped at Hidalgo 11,000’ the highest village in north America to pick up our gear guard for the hut.
We arrived at Piedra Grande 14,000’ base camp of Orizaba mid afternoon, we were fortunate to have the entire hut for ourselves, the hut is maintained by Mexican Mountaineering Club sleeps 60 first come bases no reservations and it’s free.
Since there was plenty of daylight hours left after setting down our gears and selecting sleeping quarters we went for a hike towards the mountain to stretch and to get used to high altitude, returned to the hut for dinner.
Next morning we hiked to high camp 16,200’ to acclimatize further and to carry extra gear, returned to the hut for dinner, just as we had finished dinner a large group of Spanish blind climbers arrived at the hut with their guides and staff they were close to 50 people, that night we were packed like Sardines.
Next morning we moved to High Camp with our remaining gear to spend the night their for our summit attempt next morning, after setting camp 3 tents had dinner organized gear and assigned the 2 rope teams participants to their proper position for next mornings summit attempt.
Before retiring the night Leon, bill and Tom scouted and marked the route up the Gully to facilitate our move in the dark next morning, (I described the conditions of the Gully in my 2003 report)
We woke up at 3.00 AM to start our summit climb, unfortunately one rope team did not feel well because of altitude decided to stay at high camp, the remaining 4 moved on towards the Gully, we followed the markers previously set night before for a while than we lost, we drifted towards the technical section of the ice gully we had no choice but to continue, by 07:00 we were at the edge of the glacier it was cold and windy the glacier previous year was soft and mushy this year it was hard like concrete even by noon time with full Sun.
Our team of Four Leon, Bill, Tom and Mitch continued to climb up the glacier, as we reached 17,000’ another team member succumbed to exhaustion or altitude, since Tom and Bill were feeling well and strong decision was made for them to continue and the rest of us had to go down.
Bill and Tom reached the summit of Pico De Orizaba at 11:30 AM after spending 10 minutes on the summit for photo opportunity they came down to join the rest of the group at high camp, we met our driver at Base camp to take us back to Tlachichuca.
We Arrived Tlachichuca late afternoon to clean up and to celebrate.
Next morning we strolled thru the center of town bought local souvenirs and drove back to Mexico City to spend the night there, we spend the rest of the afternoon walking Zona Rosa district of Mexico City had great dinner and retired to return home next morning.
The 2004 Orizaba trip was a success, everyone enjoyed the experience.