East of Mexico City, past the town of Puebla, you will find the highest mountain in Mexico know as El Pico de Orizaba. It’s actually a volcano and rises 18,490 feet above sea level. The peak or “el pico” is located north of the city of Orizaba. The volcano is currently dormant but not extinct; however, its last eruption occurred in 1687. Although it’s located about 75 miles inland, west of the port of Veracruz, its peak is visible to ships approaching the port in the Gulf of Mexico, and at dawn, rays of sunlight highlight the peak while Veracruz still lies in shadow.
Not many people consider Mexico as a skiing destination but for a proper adventure south of the border this peak offers amazing skiing opportunities in an exotic location. En route from Puebla to the mountain, stop at Tlachichuca — the sort of base town for would be climbers and skiers — and ask for Senior Reyes. His family is well know around here for their climbing experience. They have a place, called “The Hut”, up in the mountain (at 14,000 ft.) that is used by virtually everyone that ascends the volcano. The cost includes lodging and transportation.
Reaching the top is the goal, and looking down into the volcano’s crater is definitely not an “everyday” scene. It’s not a tough ascent for the average skier and mountain climber, but your stamina can surely be tested. From the summit, the views stretch to the temperate forests on the lower slopes to the other volcanoes and past the flat desert to the gulf coast beyond. Each year adventure seekers enjoy the year-round snow and the Jamapa Glacier on this peak with over 600m of steep descent on the summit glacier. The most exhilarating part is descending the peak, with most of the ski route facing north. Snow conditions are variable; sometimes the snow becomes a chunky powder, but it gets icier as you approach the glaciers.
For information on climbing Pico de Orizaba visit www.summitorizaba.com.