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February 1 – February 9, 2025


9 days in Mexico
Activity Levels: Beginner Mountaineering


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The volcanoes of Mexico offer an excellent introduction to the world of high–altitude, international mountaineering. At 18,491 feet, El Pico de Orizaba is the third highest mountain in North America and the highest peak in Mexico. Its indigenous name, Citlaltepetl, or “Star Mountain,” is thought to refer to how high Orizaba’s glaciated spire rises into the sky. At 17,159 feet, Iztaccihuatl, or “the Sleeping Woman,” is the third highest peak in Mexico and the eighth highest in North America. On the slopes of these mountains, climbers can expect to encounter interesting routes and straightforward glacier travel requiring intermediate mountaineering skills. If you have climbed Mount Rainier, Mount Baker or other peaks in the Pacific Northwest, the Mexico Volcanoes are a perfect next step as you broaden your mountain experience and prepare for expeditions to objective such as Elbrus and Aconcagua.

Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl Climb • 9 Days

Our Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl Climb is designed to give you ample time to safely acclimatize, and to make the most of your trip with guided tours of Mexico’s rich history and culture.

We begin our expedition in Mexico City, staying in the popular Zona Rosa District near the Plaza de la Reforma. We visit the famous pre-Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan and tour the Museum of Anthropology, widely considered one of the world’s best museums. We then shift our focus to the eighth highest peak in North America, 17,159-foot Iztaccihuatl, or just “Izta” for short. Izta is also known as the “sleeping woman” for the shape of its ridgelines when seen from a distance. With porters to carry our group expedition gear and some personal gear to our high camp (one way), we climb Izta via the less-traveled Ayoloco Glacier Route. From the summit we gain an incredible, close–up view of Mexico’s second-highest peak, the highly active Popocatepetl volcano, “the smoking mountain.” Since climbing is restricted on “Popo,” summiting Izta is the best way to see it.

We enjoy a rest day in the beautiful, historic city of Puebla and the colorful town of Cholula nearby. Our team then transfers to the village of Tlachichuca near the base of El Pico de Orizaba to prepare for our ascent. We travel by jeep through pine forests on the mountain’s western flank to the Piedra Grande Refugio at 13,980 feet. After an alpine start, our guide leads our team by headlamp through the rocky Labyrinth to the toe of the Jamapa Glacier above 16,000 feet. We rope up and ascend 35-degree slopes to Orizaba’s summit crater.

Before departing for home, consider spending an extra day sightseeing in Mexico City. Shop at the local artisan’s market, visit the historic downtown area and the Metropolitan Cathedral, and enjoy an evening at one of Mexico City’s fine restaurants.

Related climbs: OrizabaIztaccihuatl

Need help choosing a trip?
Read our Four-Legged Stool blog post for tips on finding the right adventure for you.

Who can climb Pico de Orizaba?

Pico de Orizaba is considered a non-technical climbing objective. Some prior experience at altitude will be beneficial but is not required. To succeed on North America’s highest mountain, you will need basic mountaineering skills, strength, endurance, and good, overall physical fitness. Mountain Gurus offers two different itineraries to best serve your goals and schedules:

Our nine-day Mexico Volcanoes climb allows more time for acclimatization and recovery between climbing Iztaccihuatl and Pico de Orizaba. Our alternate seven-day Orizaba itinerary first acclimatizes on La Malinche, a non-technical, high-altitude objective, then moves directly to Pico de Orizaba for a final acclimatization hike and summit ascent.

As with any of the world’s highest peaks, there are many guide services to choose from, but whether you reach the summit can depend largely on the experience of your guides. Our professional guide team has many years of experience in the mountains, including numerous summits of Pico de Orizaba. We routinely have 100% success on Mexico’s highest volcanoes.

Need help choosing a trip?
Read our Four-Legged Stool blog post for tips on finding the right adventure for you. Each of our expeditions requires a different mix of fitness, technical climbing skill, altitude and expedition experience. We use a simple system to help you find an itinerary that fits your goals and your abilities. The trip you choose should offer you just the right mix of challenge and enjoyment.

Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1 • Arrive Mexico City
Day 2 • Mexico City • Teotihuacan Tour
Day 3 • Base Camp • Iztaccihuatl • 13,000 ft
Day 4 • High Camp • Iztaccihuatl • 15,000 ft
Day 5 • Summit Day • Iztaccihuatl • 17,159 ft
Day 6 • Puebla
Day 7 • Base Camp • Orizaba • 14,010 ft
Day 8 • Pico de Orizaba • 18,491 ft
Day 9 • Depart Mexico City

Climb Highlights

  • Co-led by an American and Mexican mountain guide
  • Welcome dinner in Mexico City
  • Guided tours of Teotihuacan and Museum of Anthropology
  • 5 nights hotels in Mexico City and Puebla
  • Rest day and walking tour of Puebla
  • 2 nights mountain refuges
  • Tented camp on Iztaccihuatl
  • Ascent of Iztaccihuatl and Pico de Orizaba
  • Meals while climbing in the mountains
  • Land transportation
  • Friendly MG office staff will help you prepare for your adventure

“I’ve been on numerous adventure travel vacations, but Mountain Gurus put together one of the best trips I have been a part of. The itinerary was a perfect blend of roughing it and simple luxuries. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, trustworthy, and safety conscience. I would recommend Mountain Gurus without any reservations” ~ Rakesh, February 2018


Mexico Volcanoes

Expedition begins and ends in Mexico City, Mexico

Day 1 • Arrive Mexico City • 7,382 feet

Arrive Mexico City International Airport, Mexico (MEX). Transfer from airport to hotel. We stay in the popular Zona Rosa District near the Plaza de la Reforma.

Accommodations: Hotel in Mexico City
Meals Included: None

Day 2 • Mexico City • Teotihuacan

Today we tour Teotihuacan, the “Pyramid of the Sun,” with a cultural guide. Located near Mexico City, Teotihuacan is one of the world’s oldest archaeological sites. We return to our hotel for an expedition orientation in the afternoon.

Accommodations: Hotel in Mexico City
Meals Included: Breakfast, Welcome Dinner (B, D)

Day 3 • Base Camp • Iztaccihuatl • 13,000 feet

After breakfast we tour the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. We then drive toward the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes in Izta-Popo National Park, with a stop for lunch in the village of Amecameca. Our drive takes us over the Paso de Cortez, named for the Hernando Cortes, the Spanish Conquistador who crossed it in 1529 en route to the Aztec city of Teotihuacan. We sleep in the high mountain Altzomoni refuge.

Accommodations: Mountainside Refuge at Altzomoni
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner (B, D)

We have the option of skipping the museum and heading early to Iztaccihuatl for an acclimatization hike to the second pass of the La Arista del Sol route.

Day 4 • High Camp • Iztaccihuatl • 15,000 feet

In the morning, we hike to high camp at the base of the Ayoloco Glacier on Izta. We spend the night at the Ayoloco Hut. Porters help carry group food, tents and climbing gear (one way) to high camp.

Vertical Ascent Trekking: 2,000 feet
Trekking Time: 4-5 hours

Accommodations: Tented Camp at Ayoloco
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (B, L, D)

Day 5 • Summit Day • Iztaccihuatl • 17,159 feet

The day starts early. We climb for 4 to 5 hours to the summit of Izta via the Glacier de Ayoloco Route, passing several short tiers of rock and a false summit. We descend to the Ayoloco Hut, pack, and return to La Joya trailhead for the drive to Puebla, where we will spend the evening.

Vertical Ascent Climbing: 2,159 feet
Climbing Time: 3 hours to summit, 5 hours descent to trailhead

Accommodations: Hotel in Puebla
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch (B, L)

Depending on weather, route conditions and the strength of the group, we may alternatively climb the Arista del Sol (Ridge of the Sun) Route. Izta is known in Aztec mythology as the “Sleeping Lady.” With a bit of imagination, you can see her head, breast, belly, knees and feet along the mountain skyline. La Arista del Sol Route climbs steeply to the Rodillas (knees) at 16,500 feet, then traverses multiple false summits before reaching the top.

Day 6 • Puebla • 7,005 feet

After breakfast, we explore the historical city of Puebla (7,000 feet), known for its excellent local cuisine. We also visit the nearby town of Cholula, with its colorful Mexican culture and archaeological sites. In the afternoon you may rest or explore Puebla on your own.

Accommodations: Hotel in Puebla
Meals Included: None

Day 7 • Base Camp • Orizaba • 14,010 feet

We enjoy a hearty breakfast and depart to the village of Tlachichuca (Zoapan) at the base of El Pico de Orizaba. We take a four-wheel drive shuttle up the mountain to Piedra Grande Refugio.

Accommodations: Mountainside Refuge at Piedra Grande
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner (L, D)

Day 8 • Summit Day • Pico de Orizaba • 18,491 feet

With an alpine start, we embark on an ascent that will takes 9 to 12 hours roundtrip. We climb to the toe of the Jamapa Glacier, then ascend 35-degree snow slopes to the crater rim and the steel cross that marks Orizaba’s true summit. We descend, meet our 4×4 shuttle and return to Tlachichuca where we can wash up before continuing back to Mexico City. We arrive late evening and spend the night in Mexico City.

Vertical Ascent Climbing: 4,500 feet
Climbing Time: 9-12 hours roundtrip

Accommodations: Hotel in Mexico City
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (B, L, D)

Day 9 • Depart Mexico City

Transport to Mexico City International Airport for flights home.

Meals Included: Breakfast (B)

Itinerary Notes
Mountain Gurus makes every effort to uphold the scheduled itinerary, although our guides are given discretion to adapt the itinerary for reasons beyond our control or due to the needs of the group. Meal schedule: (B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner




Rates are quoted based on double/twin sharing hotel accommodations while in Mexico City and Puebla. Single room fees apply.

Deposit and Payments

  • A non-refundable deposit of $1000.00 per person secures your reservation.
  • The balance is due 120 days prior to the start date.
  • The balance can be paid by credit card with a surcharge of 3.0%, or Zelle payment network.
  • If your balance payment is not received 120 days before the start of your program, your reservation will be canceled, and all program fees forfeited.

Price Includes

  • Park fees
  • Scheduled land transportation in Mexico
  • Hotels in Mexico City and Puebla
  • Refuge or tented accommodations
  • Guided sightseeing tour
  • Scheduled meals during the expedition
  • Professional mountain guide. Groups of 4 or more are accompanied by an American guide in addition to a local guide
  • Scheduled porter service based on the itinerary
  • All group equipment for the expedition (tents, stoves, group climbing gear)

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare and meals during travel
  • Airport transfers
  • Non-scheduled meals
  • Snack food during the expedition
  • Personal gear
  • Additional round-trip porter service to high camp $150
  • Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
  • Single room supplement (hotels only) $500
  • Medical and evacuation coverage
  • Early departure fees
  • Tips and gratuities


A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your trip will be sent to you in the PreClimb information upon reservation.

Head and Face

  • Warm Hat: Wool/ synthetic, one that covers the ears.
  • Buff or Balaclava
  • Sun Hat or Baseball Cap
  • Glacier Glasses: Essential eye protection at altitude. Wrap around style or side shields.
  • Goggles: Dark lenses to help with snow and wind.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 30+
  • Lip Balm: SPF 30+
  • Climbing LED Headlamp: Bring one extra set of batteries.

Upper Body

  • Baselayer Tops: One synthetic long-sleeve shirt.
  • Mid-layer Top: This is a synthetic or fleece top.
  • Softshell Jacket: This breathable but wind-and-weather resistant jacket. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Hardshell Jacket: GORE-TEX© or a fully waterproof shell. Hoods are highly recommended.
  • Light Insulated Jacket: Light synthetic insulated jacket
  • Insulated Jacket: 700+ fill down.


  • Lightweight Gloves: One pair (WINDSTOPPER© is recommended)
  • Softshell Gloves: One pair. Leather palms offer durability and grip.
  • Heavyweight Gloves: Insulated glove or mitten with GORE-TEX© or waterproof outer.

Lower Body

  • Baselayer Bottom: One pair. Synthetic, no cotton
  • Softshell Pants: One pair. Synthetic, stretchy, non-insulated
  • Hardshell Pants: One pair of GORE-TEX© pants full-length side zips are required; you may need to take off your Hardshell pants without removing your boots.
  • Insulated Pants: One pair of synthetic insulated pants with full side zips.
  • Gaiters: Full-sized waterproof gaiters that must fit snugly over your mountaineering boots.


  • Mountaineering Boots: Full shank crampon compatible. Double plastic mountaineering boots or Heavy weight synthetic/ hybrid mountaineering boots are required.
  • Mediumweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks.
  • Heavyweight Socks: Two pair of wool or synthetic socks for sleeping in and for summit day.

Note: Please read our Mountaineering Boot and Crampon guide for more information.


  • Sleeping Bag: Bring a warm bag (rated to 0ᵒ fahrenheit).
  • Sleeping Pad: A full-length closed-cell foam pad and/ or an inflatable pad.

Packing and Backpack

  • Backpack: One 60-75L pack with good support, adequate to carry personal.
  • Duffel: One large duffel for transporting gear.
  • Liner Bags: Two large plastic contractor bags.

Climbing Gear

  • Ice Axe: 55-65cm mountaineering axe.
  • Crampons: 12-point steel with anti-balling plates.
  • Climbing Helmet: Lightweight
  • Alpine Harness: Lightweight alpine harness with adjustable leg loops.
  • Trekking Poles: Adjustable and collapsible with snow baskets.
  • Locking Carabiners: (2) Large pear-shaped, screw gate locking carabiners.
  • Non-locking Carabiners: (2) Wire gate non-locking carabiners.
  • Nylon Sling: (2) 60cm nylon slings


  • Water Bottle: Two, 1L wide-mouth plastic bottles. NALGENE©

Personal Health and First Aid

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Small personal first-aid kit and medications
  • Plastic bowl, insulated mug, and spoon
  • Toilet paper, blue bag or wag bag
  • Earplugs



Program Location:
Begins and ends in Mexico City, Mexico

Visa/Entry Information:
A valid passport is required for American citizens to enter Mexico. American citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 30 days for tourism.

Health & Immunizations:
Immunizations are not required for entry into Mexico

Flight Travel Information:
Mexico City International Airport (MEX), Mexico

International Departures:
Itineraries reflect the date and time you will need to arrive in country for a program. Mountain Gurus programs begin and end in the country’s destination city. When booking your flight, you will need to account for travel time and crossing the international dateline if needed. It is easiest to give your booking agent the day and time you will need to arrive.

Meals and Food:
All meals are provided as per meal schedule. See itinerary.

A complete clothing and equipment list specific to your program will be sent to you in the pre-departure packet upon reservation. For your safety and comfort, it is extremely important that you adhere strictly to the equipment list.

Mexico Volcanoes Fitness & Training

Climbing Grade: Beginner   

The approach to high camp on Izta requires a 4- to 6-hour hike with a roughly 35-pound pack, while utilizing porter support for group climbing gear. During summit days on Izta and Pico de Orizaba, we will be breathing heavily, moving slowly, and carrying 25-pound summit packs. To succeed on this expedition, you must be in top physical and mental condition.

Prior to the expedition we recommend climbing a Cascade Volcano to master the skills essential to reaching the summit.

Here’s a suggested progression of climbs before attempting Pico de Orizaba.

  • Northwest Climb (Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Shuksan)

Note: Additional porter services is available to high camp, however this cost is not included in the price of the trip. Please contact us for pricing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Mountain Gurus

Since 2008, we have offered world-class Seven Summits expeditions, high-altitude climbs, and specialized treks around the globe from the Himalayas to the Andes, and from the heights of Africa to the rainforests of the Amazon Basin. We make safety our foremost priority. We employ some of the most talented guides in the industry, and we maintain low client-to-guide ratios to ensure that you enjoy the best possible experience. Our business is rooted in environmental and social stewardship. We also offer a wide selection of mountaineering courses and climbs in the Pacific Northwest through our partner company, Northwest Alpine Guides. To learn more about our services, history and philosophy, please visit: Why Mountain Gurus.

Where will we stay?

In Mexico City and Puebla we stay in centrally located, high quality hotels in easy walking distance of a variety of cafes and restaurants, shops, museums and other attractions. On el Pico de Orizaba we sleep in a snug, high mountain refuge or an expedition camp with comfortable sleeping and dining tents. On Iztaccihuatl, we sleep in mountaineering tents and a mountain refuge with spectacular views of Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. Expedition prices are based on double occupancy (two team members per room or tent). Single occupancy accommodations may be available for an added fee.

How much will my pack weigh?

This Mountain Gurus expedition utilizes high-altitude climbing porters on Iztaccihuatl so that team members do not need to carry group gear, significantly reducing the weight you will carry. You will be responsible for carrying only your personal climbing gear. Your pack will be heaviest while ascending to Iztaccihuatl High Camp, roughly 35 pounds. On summit days you can expect to carry 20-25 pounds.

What technical skills do I need for this climb?

Climbers should have basic snow climbing and mountaineering experience. We recommend taking our 5 Day Glacier Mountaineering Course.

When is the best season to climb?

Mexico’s main climbing season coincides with the dry season from November through March.

What is the guide to climber ratio?

We strive to maintain a 2:1 climber to guide ratio on summit days. Additional assistant guides or American guides will be present for larger groups.

Will we stay at high camp on Pico de Orizaba?

If the group is feeling healthy and well acclimatized, we offer the option of spending one night at high camp on Pico de Orizaba at roughly 16,000 feet near the base of the Jamapa Glacier. This allows for a shorter summit day. If we use this option, team members must carry their personal overnight equipment to high camp in packs weighing 35 pounds or more. We also incur additional fees of roughly $100 to $150 per team member for extra equipment and porters to carry it. In dry conditions, we may need to higher additional porters to carry water to high camp. This option requires pre-planning and is dependent on porter availability.




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