This trip combines adventure, learning, and travel. You’ll be introduced to different cultures while you develop your climbing skills.
Climb Three Mexico Volcanoes
When most people think of Mexico, they probably think about the beautiful beaches, tropical locale, historic colonial buildings and churches, the delicious food, or historical and cultural specifics of its people.
However, it is also home to several of North America’s highest peaks, thus offering an excellent opportunity for an international adventure and a taste of high-altitude climbing without going too far from home.
This 12-day expedition is focused on climbing three peaks while also experiencing some of the rich cultural history and food that Mexico has to offer.
This trip is rooted in adventure, not just in the mountains, but also with the people of the towns and communities of the areas we travel.
Our long-standing friendships with locals provide a unique and authentic experience during the course of our expedition.
The first objective is a dormant volcano called La Malinche, where we will begin our acclimatization by climbing up to its 14,636’ summit.
Our next peak, Iztaccihuatl, or Izta, is Mexico’s third-highest peak at 17,160’ and is not only a stunning climb but a great challenge as well.
Finally, climb the crown jewel of the Mexican volcanoes, Pico de Orizaba. At 18,491’ it not only rises above all others in Mexico but is also the third highest peak in North America.
Day 1: Fly to Mexico City
- It is one of the largest cities in the world with a population of 8.5 million and is located at an altitude of 7,350ft. After landing at the airport, guide(s) will pick you up and we will drive 50-60 miles to the Cabanas San Luis Malinche. We return to the Cabanas several times throughout the trip. We can leave unnecessary items here at the cabanas and pick them up before the bigger peaks. An evening walk to explore the local area close to the base of the mountain before dinner. In the late evening, we pack for our ascent of La Malinche. We overnight here in very comfortable beds in our private cabana. Group transfer from airport to cabanas.
Day 2: La Malinche
- Today we leave Cabanas San Luis Malinche after breakfast and drive up to the base of La Malinche. This is Mexico’s fifth highest mountain and an excellent peak to acclimatize on in preparation for the higher peaks. We will begin our climb up to the treeline of the peak through a shaded forest up to a cleared saddle. We will camp here for the night and enjoy the remainder of the evening cooking dinner and acclimatizing for the remainder of our time at altitude.
Day 3: Acclimatization Hike on La Malinche (4462m or 14,640ft)
- Today we have an early breakfast at camp and depart for a long acclimatization hike up Malinche to the summit. For those feeling well, we will go all the way to the summit, for the others, they can go to a high alpine meadow or saddle in order to spend some time at altitude to prepare for the higher peaks. After summiting, we return to break down camp and return to the cabanas for a late dinner and another night!
Day 4: Travel to the base of Iztaccihuatl
- Iztaccihuatl or Izta is located roughly 45 miles southeast of Mexico City. The name Iztaccihuatl is Aztec for “White Woman” and has its origins in an ancient legend in which Iztaccihuatl and Popcatepetl (a nearby volcano – Mexico’s second-highest) were once lovers, but were turned into mountains after displeasing the gods. Izta is reasonably technical and will be good preparation for Orizaba. Our base camp is at 12,800ft on the edge of a pine forest and if space is available, we will stay in the Altzimont hut. We will stop in Amecameca for lunch in the town center before driving up the rough dirt road to La Joya, the location for our base camp. We will spend the evening preparing our gear for the climb of Izta.
Day 5: High camp on Izta
- We use the ‘La Arista del Sol’, The Ridge of the Sun route to climb Izta, depending on the weather conditions and the strength of our team. The Ridge of the Sun is often referred to as “the knees” route and is the standard route on the mountain. The mountain lies within The Iztaccihuatl-Popocatepetl National Park. The glacier itself includes shallow crevasses and small ice cliffs, but these can be passed easily. We move to a camp higher on the mountain at around 15,500ft. It should take approximately five hours to make this ascent. The hut at High Camp is crude but provides wood bunks and shelter from the wind. We use the afternoon to refresh on the basics of ice ax technique and crampon walking.
Day 6: Ascent of Izta (5,260m or 17,260ft)
- It is an 8- to 12-hour day to make the climb to the summit and back down to La Joya. We’ll need to start early in the morning to ensure we are up and off the peak in a reasonable time. From the summit, the views are superb across to Popcatepetl (previously a popular peak to climb until it starting erupting again), Puebla, and Mexico City. We descend all the way back down the mountain and drive back to the now familiar cabanas for hot showers and a rewarding evening meal.
Day 7: Rest day and Travel to Orizaba
- We travel approximately 150 kilometers by road in our vehicle to the town of Tlachichuca, where we will stay at the famous Servimont Climbers Hostel, a former soap factory that has been a climbers hostel for over 40 years. Opportunities to explore town in the afternoon and resupply at the market before enjoying a great dinner with the folks at Servimont. The evening will be spent preparing our gear for the ascent of Orizaba.
Day 8: Trek to Piedra Grande Hut
- After breakfast, we will travel up the flanks of Orizaba by 4×4 vehicles to the Piedra Grande hut, our basecamp on Orizaba. Once we arrive we can do an acclimatization hike up to the labyrinth and stash water, technical gear, and our tents. If needed, we can also don our crampons and ice axes for a few more hours of ice ax and crampon technique practice. We spend the night in the hut on the plateau just above the tree line.
Day 9: High camp on Orizaba
- We spend this day continuing to acclimatize to the altitude while moving up the peak to our high camp around 14,800ft. After establishing camp, we will spend some time marking our route through an area commonly called the labyrinth while familiarizing ourselves with the terrain in preparation for climbing through the area in the dark on summit day. An early dinner and bedtime will give us ample time to rest and prepare for the summit climb the next day.
Day 10: Ascent of Orizaba (5,640m or 18,500ft)
- A 2 a.m. start is needed to reach the summit before snow conditions deteriorate in the midday sun. The route follows the Glacier de Jamapa, which is a straightforward slope at an average angle of 35°. We rope up as there are occasional spots of hard ice. The route goes through a rock ravine known as the labyrinth and then travels onto the glacier itself, which we switchback on the steep snow toward the crater rim. From here, we follow the edge of the crater around to the summit, which is marked by a cross. The views across the Gulf of Mexico to the East and the central plateau to the West are quite breathtaking. After spending some time on the summit, we descend back down to Piedra Grande hut. The climb and descent should take 10 to 14 hours in total. Upon returning to Piedra Grande hut, we pack our gear into the 4×4 for transport back to Tlachichuca, where we will enjoy a celebratory meal at Servimont.
Day 11: Depart Tlachichuca to Mexico City
- We will depart for Mexico City after breakfast. There may be some time for sightseeing if flying late in the day. Group transfer to the airport. Option to stay in Mexico City this night and depart the following morning. If this is the case, we will enjoy an afternoon/evening out in Mexico City for dinner and entertainment.
Day 12: Travel Home
We will be staying in the famous Roma District in Mexico City, which is the arts district. The hotel we will be staying at is comparable to a 3 to 4-star hotel in the U.S. Within walking distance there are lots of restaurants, markets, the subway, groceries, galleries, and the Viaducto Expressway. The reception staff is very friendly and helpful, as they go out of their way to help us out!
Cabanas San Luis Malinche
While not on the peaks climbing, we will be staying in the heart of the Malinche Nature Reserve at a private cabana. The cabanas are in a remote and beautiful setting and are run by our good friend and proprietor, Mariana. We will find solace and comfort here on our recovery days, as we will be close to towns, trails, and cultural areas for exploring. Also, Mariana and her excellent staff make the best meals and tell the best stories we’ve ever experienced in Mexico! This will serve as our base camp of sorts, to enjoy between climbs of the volcanoes.
Servimont Climbers Hostel
Located in a historic soap factory from centuries past, this iconic climbers’ paradise is where we will stay before and after our climb of Orizaba. Operated by Sr. Reyes and his family for over four generations now, we will be well taken care of here while we prepare and recover from our attempt on Orizaba.
You will need to fly into Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Upon arrival, you will need to go through immigration and customs. After this, your guides will meet you inside the airport at a pre-determined place depending on which terminal you fly into. Specific instructions for meeting up will be sent to you once you confirm your flights. Guides will transport you to/from the airport in Mexico City upon arrival and departure.
While there may be some concerns about drug cartel presence, the areas we will be traveling through and staying in are well removed from the known cartel areas of Mexico. We will be traveling on toll roads, expressways, and in towns and locales with no connection to cartel presence. This has never been a problem for any of our guides as they have travelled there personally or professionally.
- 18+ for adult courses or 16+ with consent from a guardian and Kaf approval.
- 12-18 for youth courses.
No experience necessary. Ability to walk up to 8 miles per day (for up to 8 days) with a 25 lb. pack.
- Lodging and transportation while in Mexico
- Professional mountain guides at a 2:1 ratio
- All fees and permits
- All meals except while in Mexico City
- Group climbing equipment
- Lodging and transportation while in Mexico
- Flights to Mexico
- Visa fees
- Personal climbing equipment or any other personal items
- Guide gratuity
- Miscellaneous spending money for drinks and spare time activities
- Insurance of any kind
- Climbing accessories
- Meals in Mexico City
- Flights to Mexico
- A gear list will be sent to you and made available at registration. However, you should plan on bringing all your items in a pack and duffel bag for ease of loading and transporting.
- Guides will provide all group gear including tents, stoves, pots/pans, first-aid, and technical climbing gear.
- You will be expected to bring your own clothing layers, sleeping bag, boots, personal climbing gear, town clothes, and personal items. Rentals will be available through Kaf Adventures.
Flights to Mexico are not included. Once in Mexico City, all transportation will be handled by Kaf Adventures until you arrive back at the airport.