"The Orizaba experience was unbelievable and RMI did everything right to make it a success."
— Brett F. | Read More Testimonials
Mexico's central valleys are home to several of the highest summits in North America; El Pico de Orizaba, at 18,701', is the third highest while its neighbor Ixtaccihuatl (17,340') ranks as number seven. Highlights include:
- Scale several of North America’s highest mountains over the course of one short climbing expedition.
- Climb with an experienced RMI Guide, benefiting from the background, training, and expertise of our guides as you venture to higher altitudes.
- Bring your climbing to new heights with multiple ascents that combine high altitude experience with basic technical difficulty.
- From its glaciers to the small traditional towns of the country’s heartland, visit a rarely seen yet captivating side of Mexico.
- Take part in an RMI adventure and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.
We begin our adventures in Mexico City, staying near from the "Zocalo" - the main square that is the physical and cultural center of the city. From Mexico City we head to La Malinche, an extinct volcano whose crumbling core juts above the Puebla Valley. We use La Malinche to build our acclimatization in preparation for the climbs ahead, hiking and sleeping in cabins on the mountain’s flanks.
We then turn our sights to nearby Ixtaccihuatl (Ixta), a broad ridged peak that overlooks Mexico City. Our ascent begins with a straightforward approach through alpine meadows to our high camp, Grupo de los Cien. Climbing directly up the Knees Route toward La Arista del Sol, we gain the summit ridge, making the airy ridge walk over a few "false summits" to the true summit of Ixta.
As the highest peak in Mexico, El Pico de Orizaba is the crown jewel of the Mexican Volcanoes and our final summit of the trip. An exciting twelve mile jeep ride takes us from the valley floor to our camp at the Piedra Grande Hut, perched above 14,000'. From our camp we make our way through the mountain’s rocky moraine to the toe of the Jampa Glacier, climbing the glacier’s ice and snow slopes to Orizaba’s summit.
Climbing in Mexico includes moderately steep slopes and prior knowledge of roped travel, crampon techniques, and ice axe arrest is recommended; a review of these basic mountaineering techniques is built into the itinerary. These climbs are ideal for mountaineers looking to build their climbing skills, reach new heights on some of North America’s highest peaks, and take part in the excitement of an international climbing expedition.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips and we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Our trip preparation before departure takes care of the details for you, from hotels to airport transfers, so that you can focus on preparing for the climb instead of the distraction that comes with coordinating logistics.
Our Mexico climbs are led by RMI’s foremost U.S. guides, who bring years of climbing experience in not only Mexico but on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Alaska Range to the Himalayas. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated. We are also fortunate to have Servimont as our partners in Mexico. Our close relationship with them offers our trips the support needed to ensure a seamless experience and is a major factor behind our climbs’ successes. We use RMI's own climbing equipment brought from the U.S., ensuring that our expedition standards of safety, quality, and reliability are met. Our guides take the time to choose fresh food and excellent ingredients for our meals in the mountains, keeping our teams well fed, happy, and healthy throughout the climb. We use private vehicles to travel between the different peaks, minimizing our time spent on the road and allowing us to travel more safely. Our exceptional focus on detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures are what make our programs truly memorable.
Safety has always been RMI’s top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI’s experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our climbs of Mexico’s Volcanoes. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, daily weather forecasts via satellite, and diligent attention are taken as we venture to high altitudes. Comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the trip.
RMI supports the MEX-AMbulance Project. Click here for more details.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or email@example.com.
Mexico's Volcanoes Itinerary
Day 1: Upon your arrival in Mexico City (7,300 feet), a taxi ride takes you to our hotel. Our hotel is near the heart of the city and the lively Zócalo (Constitution Square) with its many museums, shops, outdoor cafes, pubs and restaurants. We have an evening orientation meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the hotel lobby.
Around the hotel in Mexico City
Day 2: We meet for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and plan to leave the hotel at 8:00 a.m. We drive in private vehicles to the cabins at the La Malintzi Resort, a facility located at 10,000' at the base of La Malinche (14,636') and initially used by Mexico's Olympic Team for training. There we take an acclimatization hike on La Malinche to stretch our legs and lungs. While reaching the summit is optional, depending on our time and schedule, this beautiful hike provides an enjoyable opportunity for helping our bodies adjust to the altitude. (B, D)
Hiking on La Malinche The cabins on La Malinche
Day 3: We depart La Malinche and travel towards Ixtaccihuatl. We have some time to visit a local market in Amecameca and purchase any last minute items for our climb of Ixtaccihuatl. We then drive to the Altzomoni hut (12,000') where we take a short acclimatization hike and overnight in the Altzomoni hut. (B, D)
The markets and reaching Ixta
Day 4: We leave the Altzomoni hut and hike to our High Camp. We set up camp, review our mountain skills and prepare for an early alpine start. (B, D)
Climbing to High Camp on Ixta
Day 5: Summit Day on Ixtaccihuatl! We depart High Camp for our summit attempt. We will climb either the Knees Route to the Ridge of the Sun (La Arista del Sol). After enjoying the views and celebrating on the 17,340' summit, we descend to High Camp, pack up, and return to La Jolla. We transfer to the colonial city of Puebla and check into our hotel. (B)
Climbing on the Summit Bid The Summit Ridge of Ixta
Day 6: Our hotel in Puebla is located one block away from the Zocalo (main square) in the heart of the downtown historical district of Puebla and has been on the city map since 1668. The day is free for you to relax and explore the city and the many historic sites.
Views of Puebla
Day 7: Today we drive to Tlachichuca located at the base of Pico de Orizaba. After lunch, four-wheel drive trucks take us to Piedra Grande, our High Camp on Orizaba at 14,000'. We spend the night in tents near the hut. (B, L, D)
Reaching Pico de Orizaba
Day 8: Summit Day on Pico de Orizaba! With an early alpine start we make our way through a maze of rock and scree. Upon reaching the Jamapa Glacier, we don crampons and ice axes and rope up for the remainder of the climb. The glaciers on Orizaba are relatively non-technical, with very few crevasses, and the ascent to 18,701' is fairly straight-forward. After celebrating on the summit, we begin our descent. Upon reaching Piedra Grande, we load our trucks and descend for a hot shower and a home cooked meal. We spend the night in a climbers' hostel in Tlachichuca. (B, D)
Climbing at sunrise on Orizaba The final pitches to the summit of Orizaba
Day 9: After breakfast we depart Tlachichuca and return to Mexico City. It's about a three hour drive, and we arrive at the airport around 12:00 p.m. Just to be on the safe side, we recommend booking your return flight for 3:00 p.m. or later. Our vehicle will continue back to the hotel to drop off anyone who is extending their trip. (B)
Descending Orizaba and heading home
Key: B, L, D = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Mexico's Volcanoes Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI 2013.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
2 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.
BACKPACK: A 65-70+ liter pack large enough to carry all of your personal gear, food and water is the recommended size for this climb. A separate summit pack is not needed.
PACK COVER (OPTIONAL): Protects your pack from rain while on the trail.
DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.
SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated 0° to 15° F. Either goose down or synthetic.
SLEEPING PAD: Full length inflatable or closed cell pad.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm. axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm. axe; and taller, use a 75 cm. axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a climbing harness with removable leg loops.
1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.
CRAMPONS: The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are recommended. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.
Head Guides' Pick
WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.
GLACIER GLASSES: A pair of dark-lensed sunglasses with side shields or full wrap-type sunglasses. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and Infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the Visible Light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.
GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. Additionally, contact lens wearers may find a clear-lensed goggle very useful on windy nights.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
HEAVY WEIGHT INSULATED GLOVE OR MITTEN: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves or mittens. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.
We recommend a minimum of 5 upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, 1 light and 1 medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.
RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood. We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: This expedition-style heavy parka should extend below the waist and must have an insulated hood. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill as down weighs less. The parka does not have to be waterproof, though that is a nice feature.
We recommend a system of 4 layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
1 - 3 UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.
RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.
HIKING SHORTS: Good for lower elevations and warm, sunny days.
Feet Guides' Pick
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Insulated leather mountaineering boots are the preferred choice for ascents in Mexico. They provide the adequate insulation as well as the rigid sole for kicking steps and holding crampons. Plastic mountaineering boots are also adequate. Though their stiffness makes them somewhat less suitable during the approach hikes, they are generally a warmer option for summit day. Bring one pair of chemical foot warmers if you are using the leather mountaineering boots.
HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.
LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.
GAITERS: We recommend a knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing.
3 PAIR OF SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy aceess and to prevent freezing.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
1 - 3 CHEMICAL HAND and TOE WARMERS
3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.
2 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
2 SETS ALKALINE BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.
2 CASUAL PANTS
3 - 4 SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.
Personal First Aid Kit
ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL
PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)
SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE
ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.
TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain
ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitiude Illness
Utensils Guides' Pick
READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL
iPOD or MP3 PLAYER
PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.
COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.
COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: huts, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, climbing ropes, climbing anchors, avalanche probes, shovels, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.
Breakfast and dinner meals on the mountain are included as indicated in our Trip Itinerary. With the exception of hotel breakfasts, most restaurant meals are on your own. Your trip fee does not included bottled water and drinks.
Please list any special dietary needs on the Participant Information Form. The form must be returned to the RMI Office 60 days prior to the program departure date.
You are responsible for your own mountain lunches for 6 days. Lunch items should weigh about 3 - 4 lbs. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Mexico, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take lunch foods that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Mountain Breakfasts and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars (Kashi, Kudos), hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. One typical main course dinner might be spaghetti with sausage and fresh vegetables. Another meal might be chicken fajitas with cheese, tortillas, onions, and peppers. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
This trip is open to individuals in excellent physical condition who have prior knowledge and are comfortable with rope travel, the use of crampons, and ice axe arrest. This is a great first trip to altitudes above 15,000 feet.
Simply put, climbers perform better and enjoy the adventure more if they have a high degree of fitness and comfort with basic mountaineering skills. This program’s high altitude and snowy terrain contribute to make this a very worthwhile challenge.
Recommended climbing experiences prior to the Mexico volcanoes include climbs which introduce climbers to basic rope, ice axe and cramponing skills:
- 4-day or 5-day Summit Climb on Mt. Rainier
- Expedition Skills Seminar on Mt. Rainier
- Mountaineer’s route on Mt. Whitney
- Avalanche Gulch route on Mt. Shasta
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For Mexico Volcanoes, you are preparing for:
- Hiking/trekking with a 50-60 lb load
- Steep climbing and glacier travel with a 20-25 lb load
- A 12+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support, both with regards to travel arrangements, evacuation policies and insurance options. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Even if you are a seasoned traveler capable of organizing your own travel arrangements, consider contacting her if you wish to avoid sifting through the variety of evacuation policies and insurance options on the market. Call (208) 788-2870 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase Travel Insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. The wise traveler, while perhaps able to walk away from the non-refundable cost of an adventure, recognizes that travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Due to the remote nature of this particular program, we strongly encourage participants to consider both cancellation insurance and a separate medical & security evacuation policy.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage.
Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. Travel insurance providers (such as AIG Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance) typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.
Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened. RMI purchases Security Evacuation Policies from Global Rescue for its guides on this program.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
|Travelex Insurance||Global Rescue|
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as entry requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
Most major US airlines offer daily flights to Mexico City (MEX). Flights should be booked to allow for an arrival time in the early afternoon on Day 1 of the itinerary.
Departing flights should be booked for 3:00 p.m. or later on Day 9.
A valid passport is required when traveling to/from Mexico by air. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected date of return. U.S. passport holders can stay up to 90 days without a visa.
Upon arrival in Mexico City, you will be required to complete a currency declaration form which will be submitted to the authorities on your departure. You will also need to retain the "stub" of your immigration form for the duration of your stay, and present it upon leaving. Loss of this stub usually results in a fine.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a back up. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Upon arrival at the Mexico City airport, follow the signs through Immigrations. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay.
After picking up your bags, proceed to Customs where there will be a random selection of bags for inspection. As you enter into the main terminal building, you will be greeted by a crowd of baggage handlers. The scene can be a bit overwhelming. Just keep your bags together and find one of the airport's Authorized Taxi booths - "Taxi Autorizado."
We recommend finding Taxi Sitio 300. Their website is in Spanish, but shows all the current fares. They have three locations right inside the airport. If exiting from the international arrivals hall "E1," there is an authorized taxi booth immediately to the right as you walk out the door. If exiting from arrivals hall "E2," there is an authorized taxi booth immediately to the left as you walk out the door. There is also a booth located at "Puerta 10." "Puerta 10" is where you will meet your taxi. Once you purchase your ticket, you will be given a receipt. Show this to the driver.
The drive to our hotel is approximately 3.5 miles, and located in "Zone 3." The current fare is 127 pesos (approximately $20 US) for the ride. Unless you are coming in with a group, you only need to hire a sedan car, not a mini-van.
There have been occasional reports of baggage handlers escorting tourists from one taxi desk to another in an effort to get them to pay "additional" fees - baggage fees, excess baggage fees, over-sized baggage fees, etc. These are bogus fees and only intended to take advantage of tourists caught in the hectic pace of a strange airport. Simply be aware of this. You only need to pay the fare once, and you will be given a receipt.
The provided transportation in Mexico as stated in the itinerary is via private vans or buses.
Immunizations & Travel Medicine
For the most current information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
Travelers may suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.
- Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before all meals and after using the restroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
- Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water; and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe excess moisture from drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
- Food - If it is cooked, boiled, or can be peeled, you can usually eat it. Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Be wary of ice cream and shellfish. Always avoid any undercooked meat.
Excellent care for minor illnesses and injuries is readily available. In the event of more serious injuries or illnesses, we recommend transport to any of the level I care centers in Mexico City.
Our tour operator, Sr. Reyes, is an M.D. and is Chair of the local Cruz Roja (Red Cross). He has clinics near the base of El Pico de Orizaba, in Tlachichuca, and in Mexico City.
Mexico Country Facts
The official language of Mexico is Spanish, and little English is spoken or understood outside Mexico City.
Mexico's attractions include its mountains, historical sites, archaeological ruins, fiestas, beaches, fishing, water sports, golf, bullfighting, handicrafts, music, dance, relaxation and moderate prices.
Mexico is bordered by the United States to the north and Belize and Guatemala to the southeast. Mexico is about one-fifth the size of the United States. The center of Mexico is a high plateau with mountain chains on the east and west.
Significant ancient cultures such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, the Zapotec, the Maya and the Aztec had advanced well before the day the first Europeans arrived on scene. In 1521, Spain conquered and colonized the territory which would eventually become United Mexican States (or Mexico). Independence came in 1821. The post-independence era was marked by difficulties which culminated in the Mexican Revolution of 1910, which subsequently ushered in the 1917 Constitution and the country's current political system. Mexico today is a federal constitutional republic.
Mexico has the second-largest economy in Latin America and is a major oil producer and exporter. Though production has fallen in recent years, about one-third of government revenue still comes from the industry. Much of the crude oil is purchased by the US.
The time in Mexico City is the same as the central time zone in the United States. Daylight savings time is practiced.
The weather in Mexico City and while traveling to and from the mountains can be very warm. We recommend bringing a pair of light pants and a T-shirt. For current weather conditions, check Weather Underground.
The people of Mexico are generally very warm and friendly to tourists. Personal relationships are very important, so developing rapport and trust is important.
When entering a shop or home, politely use a greeting such as buenos días (good day), buenas tardes (good afternoon), buenas noches (good night). Similarly, upon leaving, even if you've had only minimal contact, say adios (goodbye) or hasta luego (see you later). Mexicans usually also accompany greetings with handshakes.
Although it is not expected that we dress formally, we should dress modestly. Casual and comfortable clothing is suggested along with comfortable shoes. Showing expensive cameras, watches, jewelry, etc. is considered unseemly and may attract unwanted attention.
Electricity in Mexico is the same as in the United States: the ungrounded two-prong plug is used for 110 volts, 60 hertz appliances. Appliances with 3 prongs or an enlarged prong will require an adapter.
The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso. The recent exchange rate was about 9.8 pesos to the U.S. dollar. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com/ucc for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You will find that $300- $400 for spending money is adequate for restaurant meals, drinks and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
Cash machines are readily available in Mexico City, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of the main urban areas. There are several cash machines at the airport which makes it very easy and convenient to withdraw cash. While American dollars are widely accepted, we recommend changing money at the airport so that you have Mexican Pesos for airport porters, taxis, etc.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
Local waiters, drivers, mountain staff, and other service personnel expect to be tipped. Ten to fifteen percent is standard.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
There are a number of books on travel health including: Staying Healthy in Asia, Africa and Latin America by Dirk Schroeder. Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Fodor's and Frommers are all good travel guides. Information and updates can be found on the website for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, which provides medical information for travelers as well as the consular information.
R. J. Secor, Mexico's Volcanoes: A Climbing Guide. The Mountaineers, third ed., 2001.
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/mexico/ is Lonely Planet's guide to travel in Mexico.
Wikitravel in Mexico offers good general information and links to explore.
A deposit of $1,500 per person secures your reservation. Final payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program. Final payment may be made via check or wire transfer only. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation.
We will send you a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 90 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited.
Once we receive written notification (mail, e-mail, or fax) that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply. A fee of $750 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 90 days before departure. There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 90 days before your program.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
The current fee includes:
- RMI Leadership
- Hotel accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
- All park entrance fees
- All group transportation in country as stated in the itinerary
- All breakfast and dinner meals on the mountain and other meals as stated in the itinerary
- All group cooking, climbing and camping equipment
The fee does not include:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance, medical evacuation insurance and security evacuation insurance
- Passport and visa fees
- Excess baggage fees and departure taxes
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Bottled water and personal drinks
- Customary guide gratuities
- Additional room charges including laundry service and other personal expenses
- Hotel accommodations not indicated in the itinerary
- Transfer from the airport to the hotel upon arrival in Mexico City
- Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
Is it safe to travel in Mexico?
Because violence in Mexico remains in the news, questions about safety are among the most frequently asked.
We hold the perspective that travel to Mexico (and in fact any developing nation) includes risk, but not high risk. In order to safeguard our trips:
- We have hired a reliable professional in-country tour operator to coordinate our in-country logistics.
- We have hired a local guide familiar with the language, roads, customs, etc.
- We follow popular tourist thoroughfares, using private vehicles (not public transportation).
- We travel in groups and have tourist safety protocols in place (not flashing cash, not wearing expensive jewelry, etc.).
- RMI guides are well-versed with our program and are accustomed to travel in a foreign country.
- Very importantly, we avoid areas associated with drug activity or violence (such as the US-Mexico border towns).
- Regarding corrupt policemen on the highways, we called our in-country operator and he offered the simple suggestion that you wear your seatbelts and don't text/use cell phones when driving, as these are illegal offenses which could prompt being stopped.
Take some time to visit the consular and travel warning pages at the U.S. Department of State. These pages offer good information and should be revisited occasionally as trip departure dates approach.
What is the food like on the mountain?
Please see our Food details for an example of meals while on the mountain.
Is the water okay to drink?
We strongly advise against drinking tap water in Mexico. Bottled water is readily available and should be used for all drinking water. Personal water filters or water treatment tablets are not needed.
What is the approach to Ixta like?
Overall, Ixta is generally considered to be the most demanding of the Mexican volcanoes we climb. Much of this is due to the 5 to 6 hour approach with heavy packs needed to get to high camp. The approach, while difficult, is also beautiful and covers varied and rugged terrain, from forests near the Altzomoni hut through fields of grassy hummocks to the barren landscape near high camp.
After reaching high camp (normally by early afternoon) we have the afternoon to review necessary mountaineering techniques for the summit climb, as well as some time to rest, relax, or read a book.
How much weight am I carrying in my pack?
Backpacks should weigh approximately 15 to 20 lbs as we only carry the day's snacks, water, clothing, etc. as needed on our acclimating hikes or summit climbs. The approach to Ixta is the exception. Then we carry 50 to 60 lbs (depending on the size of the climber) in order to establish our high camp.
What is the pace like?
We travel at an appropriate speed to cover the distance we need for the day without going too quickly or too slowly, regardless of whether we are on an acclimating hike or on a summit climb. While the actual distances are relatively short, the altitudes to which we travel are very high and the days of hiking and climbing are still challenging.
What are the camps like?
We prefer to stay in tents rather than the climber’s hut and set up camp a short distance away. We provide three-person tents for every two climbers.
What are the toilets like?
Basic pit-toilets are available near the hut on Orizaba and at the Ixta trailhead. En route, where no toilets exist, we use bio-bags to collect our solid waste so that it may be transported off of the mountain. We recommend that you bring hand sanitizer to use after visiting the toilets.
How will I be able to stay connected with those at home?
We suggest bringing a smart phone or a WIFI-enabled device and using it where WIFI and internet services are available, as in Mexico City and Puebla. On the climbs, however, WIFI access is not available. Cell service is widely available across most of Mexico, see below.
Should I bring a cell phone or a satellite phone?
Sure, cell phone coverage is generally available in and around towns. Check with your cell phone carrier to see if they offer international coverage in Mexico and make sure you have the appropriate international plans and understand the associated rates.
RMI carries a satellite phone with the group through the entire trip for emergency use.
Do iPhones function well at high altitude?
Yes. However the cold can impact the battery life making it necessary for it to be charged a few times on the trip.
Is a Kindle or Nook practical on this trip?
Yes, but if you wish to take it up on the mountain you will certainly need to recharge it once in a while using a personal solar charger. We recommend downloading all of your desired books before arriving in Mexico.