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Highest Mountain in Mexico!
Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltepetl or Star Mountain) is the highest mountain in Mexico and the third tallest peak in North America. There is much debate about the actual height of the summit, though it is believed to be close to 18,500ft. Orizaba is one of only three Mexican peaks that support glaciers, and is a huge stratovolcano that is currently dormant with the last eruption recorded in the 19th century. Located East of Mexico City, approximately 120 miles, Orizaba straddles the Central Mexican states of Puebla and Veracruz which can both be seen on a clear day.
The normal or standard route approaches from the North, as the 2000ft Jamapa Glacier is the fastest way to climb the peak. If conditions are not ideal on the North side, this Southern route can be accessed through the national park near Sierra Negra mountain past the city of Serdan. There isn't much of a trail, it's more like following a ridgeline and finding the best footing up the volcanic scree fields. Intermittent cairns will help guide the way, but if an alpine start is part of your plan, it's a good idea to study the route prior to climbing.
The end of the four wheel drive access road (15,000ft) will serve as a trailhead and get you close to the Fausto Gonzales Hut (15,500ft), where you can start the hike or stay the night (or camp nearby) with no permit required. From this point the climbing begins, ascending off trail through the boulder field to the steep scree all the way to the summit.
There are a few routes to the summit, most requiring technical equipment (crampons, ice axe, rope, etc.), though the south route typically does not during the dry season (December-January). However, a helmet, trekking poles and ice axe and crampons are always a wise choice for any mountaineering endeavor.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
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