RMI Team Finishing Days on Pico de Orizaba

Posted by: | January 18, 2009
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Mexico

Humbleness is the key ingredient for climbing mountains. To embody the notion that you, the climber, are such a small part of the dynamic equation needed to safely climb an incredible peak is as challenging as the actual climbing. Our team was faced with such a challenge once we reached our high camp on El Pico de Orizaba. Weather was not cooperating with our plans to attempt the summit as wind, precipitation, and low visibility engulfed the mountain well into the morning. Many a time, emergency situations that arise in the mountains are rarely the product of just one issue, rather many tiny poor decisions that escalate to something worse. We discussed this over as a group and agreed that if we had left in poor visibility, precipitation, tough route finding, and difficult travel with the fresh snow we were not setting ourselves up for success and safety.

The weather slowly eased it’s temper as the sun began to rise revealing a beautiful, snow-covered landscape reaching down to nearly 12,500’. This unusual winter storm has left a dry, dessert-like alpine environment encased in the cold grasp of winter. A cloud cap swarmed the upper reaches of the Jamapa Glacier as our team headed out for a hike in hopes of reaching the glacier. Watching the wind whip through the mountain up high, reminded us how unforgiving mountaineering can be. The snow became deeper and deeper as we approached the last section of the rocky labyrinth just below the glacier. At the foot of the glacier, around 16,500 ft our team was knee deep in snow, gazing at the summit in awe. From this point the summit was beckoning us to climb, what looked like only a stone’s throw away. This is when one must face the reality in this case of what looks so close is easily 3 hours away and with deep snow, more like 4 hours. Too long, too exhausting, too dangerous at this point to go on. Our team, satisfied with the journey and experience of climbing in Mexico, returned to the Reyes’ lodge for some relaxation prior to our departure home.

As we sat at our gates waiting for our respective flights, we all began to dream, to wonder of the next climb. For some us, a return trip is on the bill. For others, a future mountaineering expedition is right around the corner. For all, a peace knowing we came home safe, friends, and hungry for more. Thank you to Tom, Casey, Ryan, Jayson, Mazzie, Seamus, Collin, and Marty for making this an amazing climbing program for RMI!

Team descending Orizaba in the clouds.



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