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Mountaineering: Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico

Summit elevation: 17,160 feet / 5,230 meters
10 miles with 5,400 feet of climbing
Iztaccíhuatl • Route Profile
Route Profile

Iztaccíhuatl • Description

Iztaccíhuatl aka Ixta is a 17,160-foot dormant volcano in Mexico. It is the nation's third highest mountain, after Pico de Orizaba and Popocatépetl (which cannot be climbed due to activity).
The name "Iztaccíhuatl" is Nahuatl for "White Woman", reflecting the four individual peaks which depict the head (la cabeza), chest (el pecho), knees (las rodillas), and feet (los pies) of a sleeping woman when seen from east or west. Iztaccíhuatl lies north of Popocatépetl, to which it is connected by the high altitude Paso de Cortés, which can be reached via Mexico City or Puebla (dirt road).
Iztaccíhuatl can be approached from three different trailheads, La Joya being the most popular. The road from Paso de Cortés to La Joya closes at 7:00 pm, so climbers who want to start before sunrise need to spend a night at Refugio Altzomoni (13,100 ft) or camp at the nearby trailhead. Some people climb Iztaccíhuatl in a single day, others spend a night at Refugio Grupo de los Cien (15,300 ft).
The route leads up to four Portillos and then briefly descends to Refugio Grupo de los Cien. From here it continues on to the 16,437-foot Las Rodillas summit, surmounting a steep step. The ruins of Refugio Luis Méndez mark the top of Las Rodillas. After a short descent, the route continues to climb, before descending again and crossing Ayoloco glacier. Finally it leads up Arista del Sol to the 17,160-foot summit, an anticlimactic dome.
The route offers spectacular views of Mexico City and Puebla at night and of Popocatépetl, La Malinche, Pico de Orizaba, and Nevado de Toluca at daytime.

Iztaccíhuatl • Interactive Map

Iztaccíhuatl • Pictures

Iztaccíhuatl • Paso de Cortés and Iztaccíhuatl
Paso de Cortés and Iztaccíhuatl
Iztaccíhuatl • Rock
Iztaccíhuatl • Snow
Iztaccíhuatl • Las Rodillas Summit
Las Rodillas Summit
Iztaccíhuatl • Ayoloco Glacier
Ayoloco Glacier
Iztaccíhuatl • Arista del Sol
Arista del Sol
Iztaccíhuatl • Summit
Iztaccíhuatl • Descent
Iztaccíhuatl • Sand
Iztaccíhuatl • Refugio Grupo de los Cien
Refugio Grupo de los Cien
More pictures

Iztaccíhuatl • Personal Notes

Sandra and I went 10 days to Mexico to visit family, friends, and climb Iztaccíhuatl. We acclimated on Nevado de Toluca.
We went with Memo C. from Puebla to Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park, where we spent a night in a private cabin and another night at Refugio Altzomoni. Sergio J. and Armando H. joined us for the climb, which we started at 3:00 am. Due to slow pace and clouds moving in, we decided to turn around at Las Rodillas (route).
Thanks a lot to Memo for his hospitality.
Sandra and I went 17 days to Mexico to visit family, friends, and climb Iztaccíhuatl. We acclimated on La Malinche and Nevado de Toluca.
We went with Humberto and Alberto (guides) from Mexico City to Amecameca and Paso de Cortés (11,200 ft). Sergio J. joined us for the climb. We had parked our van behind the gate and, after an hour drive on the dirt road to La Joya, started the ascent at 2:00 am under a full moon. Four hours later we passed Refugio Grupo de los Cien, and at 11:45 am we reached the summit of Iztaccíhuatl. We got back to the van at sunset and left the mountain before the gate closed.
See Also: Climbing & Mountaineering
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