I returned from the Camino de Santiago only a couple months before leaving on this trip. Believe it or not, Europe already seemed like a lifetime away. The civilized world has that affect on me. Too much easy food and drink that does not have to be paid for with lost toenails. Another job was not forthcoming so I planned and completed another trip.
I left 03 February and returned 18 February. Happily I had a direct flight from Denver to Mexico City courtesy of Mexicana. The price after fees and taxes was $403.08.
I headed south to Mexico and climbed volcanoes and pyramids as well as visit many villages, towns, and cities and the nearby ruins. Climing the Mexican Greats is something that I had been thinking about for a while, and it consisted of some glacier travel and fairly respectable altitude. Iztaccíhuatl (17,443ft/5286m) and Pico de Orizaba (18,409ft/5,610m) are the 7th and 3rd highest summits in North America respectively. These North American greats are destinations for mountaineers all over the world. Now I have checked them off my list. My second last day in Mexico, I also hiked up Cerro de la Estrella (8,570ft) within the southern part of Mexico City. That is a volcanic nub topped by the ruins of an Aztec temple.
"Some see mountains and say they are too high. Others wait until they have reached the top to decide."
--inspirational calander at Bernie's place.
It was another solo journey for me. I thought long and hard about this as the mountains can be deadly, but I decided that I was ready. Although I used ice axe and crampons and crossing glaciers, the routes are not technical and my path did not have significant crevasse risk. I would have loved to climb Popocatépetl too, but it has been closed to climbers because of constant eruptions. I have pictures of it though.
Although I had an outline of what I wanted to do I did not have a specific itinerary in mind. I did find an awesome place to stay in Mexico City, Hostal Moneda. I used the place as a base to day trip Teotihuacán and Tula. Hostal Moneda was awesome and it's location in the historic center of the city was perfect. Most of all, I met some really cool people. This time spent was also good for aclimatizing to altitude since I will be walking around at approximately 8,000 feet (2500 meters) for a few days.
In short, the rest of the trip went like this: After Teotihuacán and Tula, I went west to Amecamaca and then to the mountaineer's refuge at La Joya (12,826 ft/3,941 m). Climbing Iztaccíhuatl turned into a 4 day affair. Following that, Jana and I hitchhiked (whole 'nother story) to Cholula and visited it's Great Pyramid before sacking out in Puebla. The next day we strolled Puebla a bit befor parting. I bussed to Tlachichuca where I spent the night at Hotel Gerar and made arrangements for climbing Orizaba. The next morning, two climbers from Holland and I took a taxi to Hildalgo and from there we backpacked in to the hut at Piedra Grande and spent the night. Around 02:00 am, I started my summit attempt of Pico de Orizaba (18,409ft/5,610m). Sadly I became disoriented in the dark and lost about 4-5 hours. But I still made the summit and returned to Tlachichuca by hitching a ride part of the way on a tractor. That night I rested back in Puebla. With the mountaineering finished, I took a bus to Tlaxcala to visit some more ruins and spend the day there. Then it was back to Mexico City for shopping and a visit to the ruins of the Templo Mayor.