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Entries from Mexico

Mexico: Catherine Rossbach Sets Record on Orizaba!

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, Catherine Rossbach reached the summit of Mexico's Pico de Orizaba with the Mexico's Volcanoes team led by RMI Guides Dominic Cifelli and Ben Luedtke. At age 75, she is the oldest woman to reach Orizaba's summit. Wow! Go Catherine!!

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Mexico Volcanoes: Climbers Reflect Why We Climb

Eight days ago eleven mountaineers drawn from around the globe to climb Mexican volcanoes gathered in a circle to introduce themselves. The group of two guides and nine climbers was comprised of friends from home, acquaintances from prior climbs, and  some who were strangers to all.

Dominic, Ben, Catherine, Eric, Erica, Jean-Paul, Kat, Rich, Rossi, Thinus, and Woody came to Mexico with widely varied backgrounds, climbing resumes, and individual expectations. However, the group shared the common objectives of summiting La Malinche, Ixta, and Orizaba.

Frustration on La Malinche.

One of our group was felled below the tree line by a violent eruption of food poisoning. Half of the remaining climbers passed on attempting the last couple hundred meters to conserve energy for the week of climbing ahead. The remainder were turned back just 100m from the summit by local authorities closing the mountain early to clear the trails of spectators following the Sky Race.

Why do we climb?

Frustration on Ixta.

The team, strengthened by the addition of our local guide Allen, made high camp but our summit attempt was blown away by the violent eruptions of nearby Popo. The group descended to base camp powdered with ash and weighted with disappointment.

Why do we climb?

One last chance on Orizaba.

Setting out on the approach under the nurturing light of la luna and a clear star-speckled sky, the team was full of anticipation. We flowed up the oddly iced Jamapa glacier, traversed a segment of the mountain, climbed a challenging compact chimney, scrambled up seemingly endless scree, and then basked in the sunbeams of el sol, standing tall on the summit of the 3rd highest mountain in North America at 18,491 ft

(5,636m) of elevation. Elation.

Why we climb.

Through a week of hard work and at times harder play, the team have deepened pre-existing friendships and created potential to expand acquaintanceships. Strangers no more. Now we are sitting at breakfast, ready to return home and then continue our climbing journeys together and alone.

Why we climb…

Climber Jean-Paul Rebillard

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Lovely,  profound reflection.
Wonderful words, memorable illustrations.
Thank you.
And congratulation.
From Midwest USA flatlands.

Posted by: Walter Glover on 3/4/2024 at 1:58 am

A great ending to what I am sure was an incredible experience.  The breakfast of course I meant.  I write in my recovery journal about how the mountaineers that reach summit never focus on summit really - the ones that succeed are the ones that live in the moment and enjoy the process of the climb in and of itself whatever that means to them.  Your story is very beautiful.


Posted by: Scott Lipinoga on 3/4/2024 at 1:26 am

Mexico: Cifelli and 100% of Team on Orizaba Summit

When’s the last time you walked out the door not knowing if you were going to be able to accomplish what you’re setting out to do? When’s the last time you got your doors blown off trying to complete a voluntary endeavor?

Whens the last time you forwent a night of sleep in order to be cold, exhausted, doubtful, exhillerated, out of gas, and awe inspired. All at the same time?

9 climbers attempted the summit of  the highest peak in Mexico and the third tallest in North America today. 9 people left the comfort of their homes, took the time away from family and friends to train (hard), and came to try something they weren’t sure they would accomplish and did. 

100% of the team stood on the summit of Orizaba at 930 am this morning. Despite the harsh conditions that the Jamapa glacier had to offer. It was a long, hard fought, and absolutely gorgeous day and we couldn’t be happier. 


It’s now time to eat, reflect, and banter about how we got stopped by two popo’s, how much better Vermont maple syrup is, trials and tribulations in the Mexico móbil sauna, and wonder whatever we’re eating is a sandwich, soup, stew and what it means to be fueled by boar.

Congratulations to the whole team! AND ESPECIALLY Catherine Rossbach who became the oldest woman ever to summit Orizaba today!! 

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Catherine, you are my hero!! Huge congratulations to the whole team for your perseverance and this amazing accomplishment!

Posted by: Sara van Valkenburg on 3/3/2024 at 2:45 pm

Mexico: Cifelli & Team Stretch Legs Before Orizaba Summit Day

At last night’s dinner the evening ended with our friend from down under from a time zone very far in the future, still yet to be determined instigated a game of rock-paper-scissors between the Rock Wallaby and the Kangaroo. The Rock Wallaby won the fierce battle and humbly I’ve succumbed to defeat commencing the start of writing this blog. 

This morning as soon as we started out in Hectors Sprinter van a war between Canada and USA almost broke out 5 minutes into our ride when my new friends started picking at my Canadianism’s. When Woody tried to claim Canadian Maple Syrup’s origin to Vermont, the line was drawn…. The Maple Leaf is on our on our flag.. end of debate!!

We arrived in Tlachichuca and were graciously greeted by Dr. Reyes at his family owned 150-year-old Soap factory turned hotel. We got our gear sorted, had delicious lunch and all started to pile into trucks until we noticed JP all cozied up in the comfy truck. After some very harsh bullying, JP made the walk to the back of what we now call the Mobile Mexican Sauna exchanging places with Kat even though he has fake motion sickness….Koodo’s to JP! 

As we took off we noticed one of our guides who I will remain nameless sitting in the front seat of the air conditioned truck ready to fluff his pillow for a nap.. We named him marsh mellow Ben… opps SOARee Ben!  In case you were wondering how we made out in the locked from the outside Mobile Mexican Sauna… ask TK, the air is clean, cleans all your pours out… he was waiting for the air break after one hour and so on every 15 minutes until the end of the trip… our cries for help writing on the humidity drenched windows which may be an UN violation?!?!  All fun, just kidding!

We finally made it to Orizaba high camp at an elevation of 4300 meters.  We set our tents up and went for a true “stretch the legs” 2.5km hike. Topped off by one of the best mountain dinners ever!

Tomorrow we are going to follow the Process following the precise Dom-units fueled by bore up to the Orizaba summit.  

P.s. I’m scratching my head why we don’t fly in and out of Puebla.. 

Climber Rich Morrison 

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Mexico Volcanoes: Cifelli & Team Provide Poem about Puebla

In Puebla's city, our climbing crew gathered,

Nine strong climbers, excitement untethered.

Seven from the States, a Canadian, and me,

Down under Aussie, ready for glee.


Guides Dominic and Ben, oh, so grand,

Leading us through mountains, rocky land.

Ixta stood tall, a challenge to meet,

But a fiery eruption brought a retreat.


No summit conquered, yet a story to hail,

Volcanic spectacle, a fiery tale.

Rest day dawned, in Puebla so neat,

Toilet seats amazed, a comfy seat.


Blue bags forgotten, in the city's embrace,

Puebla's wonders, each one to trace.

Orizaba awaits, our ultimate quest,

Ben fueled by boar, a summit to crest.


Erica, a wallaby, Rich, a kangaroo,

Scaling peaks, a courageous view.

Woody's sun hoody, fresh and so clean,

Zócalo square, where memories convene.


Pyramids explored, a historic delight,

Cat on the menu, a culinary fright.

Mole dinner shared, a taste so divine,

New friendships blossomed, like aged wine.


Miss my girls at home, a heartfelt pang,

Instagram friendships, a digital hang.

Dominic's safe call, a grateful plea,

Back to families, hearts filled with glee.


RMI Climber Thinus Keeve

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I’ve just found this blog and I think it’s very informative. After I’m done reading this article I will read more for sure. Thanks

Posted by: Personalities on 3/2/2024 at 1:20 am

Mexicos Volcanoes: Cifelli & Team Descend from High Camp Due to Poor Air Quality

"Popo says Nono"

Late we woke in the night, to find an unfortunate sight.

The volcano next door, poured ash on the floor,

And now we're forced to make flight.

For those who haven't seen the news, Mexico City not only had flights grounded due to the eruption of Popo, but we stayed grounded as well. A difficult but necessary decision meant we didn't leave high camp, and we chose to sleep in and keep our respiratory systems in check. We packed up camp and hiked back to basecamp with buffs and goggles on...seems like a Gen X trend of sorts. We were greeted back at basecamp by JP's new dogs and a tasty lunch. Thanking our porter crew, cooks, and guide, Alan Marghereti, we loaded the van and made our way towards paradise...AKA a fresh shower. Arriving at our hotel in Puebla, it was our first step towards no longer feeling like a piece of ash. After a quick breath of fresh air, a few light and carbonated beverages, and what feels like 3/4 of a pig, we are very excited to continue checking out the sights of Puebla tomorrow while we rest and try to keep our walking to a maximum of 2.5 Dom units.

(Poem title courtesy of Eric Obscherning)

RMI Guide Ben Luedtke and team

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Mexico Volcanoes: Cifelli & Team Take in the Sites, Discuss Great Things on Ascent to High Camp on Ixta

We woke before 8 AM a wash with a lingering sunrise. Hughes of pinks, oranges and blues, a stark contrast against the black volcanic dust around and below us at base camp. Within just a few minutes of the groups rousing the dust was above us too, as Popo erupted with fury, more violent than we've seen since arrival in Mexico, we watched as smoke and steam billowed into the sky, becoming a dark cloud inching in our direction while we hoped it was a good omen. lt certainly was a sobering one. A reminder that we are merely guests here in every sense.

We ate a hearty breakfast of refried beans, corn chips, eggs,  potatoes, and ham thanks to our team at Ixta base camp, coffee and tea were had as well. The anticipation and excitement among the group were as thick as the ash and at 10 AM we dawned our packs and jettisoned from the Basecamp led by our local guide Allan, 300 summits of Ixta, including many by running, with Dominic and Ben in the rear. We kept an eye on the clouds of smoke, but it didn't phase us on a spectacular and reasonably effortful climb to high camp at 14,500 ft we faced only a little
scree, and instead moved through an ocean of golden grass. Its fine blades seemed to hug us as we passed. People had the energy and breath to discuss life's most important philosophical questions like Buddhism, the true nature of millennials, and Gen Xers, and how one defines a soup versus a stew and what is chili and cereal with milk, and while we are still trying to determine the conversions for the Dominic unit, the climb was indeed three hours as promised, which was met by applause at high camp. We were greeted by the cheers, laughs and smiles of our incredible Porter team, who ran ahead of us to get camp ready for our arrival which marked personal high points for the majority of us.

We rested and relaxed, had a nourishing dinner of chicken Ramen, hot chocolate, cookies, and various preparations of, and some questionable, of spam, and after a final briefing retreated to our tents and sleeping  bags early in preparation for our Alpine start to the summit of Ixta.

RMI Climber, Eric Obscherning

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Mexico Volcanoes: Team Heads for Ixtaccihuatl

Monday, February 26, 2024 - 5:20 pm PT

A long evening in La Malinche Parque Nationale cabins, late breakfast, and improved air quality revived the group, following what Dom had sold us as a “nothing conditioning stroll” on La Malinche volcano. We boarded our Sprinter van for the drive to Amecameca’s central plaza where we grazed the food stalls for lunch, and our guides bought huge jugs of water for our tent site at Ixta base camp.  The Sprinter took us to our next Parque National, Ixta-Popo, where we let Hecter drive our bags up to our base camp at 13,000 feet.  The couple hour walk up a trail was, this time, indeed a “stroll”.  Our local guide Allen, along with our cook, Rudolpho, and porters, Ali and Alejandro, greeted us happily, and then we focused on an intense gear check and pack planning session, followed by instructions in erecting the Trango tents.  Spaghetti for dinner, and several layers of down wrapped up our day.  Everyone is excited to carry our heavy packs up to Ixta’s High Camp tomorrow.

RMI Climber Katherine Jankaew 

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Mexicos Volcanoes: Cifelli & Team Arrive in Mexico City and Get Started



“¡Sí se puede!”

The hike up La Malinche gave our RMI crew a chance to stretch our legs (muchas gracias to our driver, Hector, for our safe travels from CDMX) as well as to practice our Spanish thanks to a race up and down the mountain that was happening during our acclimation hike.  

Our group went from 10,000 ft at the La Malinche resort to a near summit at 14,000ft. About half the crew tried to summit but were turned away by the local enforcers of summit attempts. 

In a few quick hours everyone was back at the resort and enjoying a delicious authentic Mexican meal prepared by the resort staff. 

Off to bed early and in the morning we will be back at it headed to Ixta base camp. 

“Watch the course!”

“Come on!” 

“Yes you can!” 

RMI Climber Jared Wood 

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Mexicos Volcanoes: Hoch & Team Turned Back on Orizaba, Conclude Trip

After two successful summits of La Malinche and Ixta, team Mexico Volcanoes took our show back on the road to the small town of Tlachachuca to prepare for our climb of 18,500' Pico de Orizaba. 

Our perfect sunny weather continued as we gear exploded and sorted on the lawn of our Mexican outfitter Servimont. After a quick lunch we loaded into the 4x4 trucks and 1964 Dodge Powerwagon that take us to our basecamp. A couple bouncy hours later, we unloaded, dusted off and set up the tents for a quick sleep. 

11:30pm dawned calm and star-lit, and we made quick work of the lower part of Orizaba. As we neared 17,000 feet, the sun came up and gave us the spectacular and classic pyramidal mountain shadow that Orizaba is famous for. 

As we climbed higher, it became clear that rumors of a very icy summit section were true. We watched as multiple teams above us on the steep summit headwall found more of the bullet-hard ice we’d found lower on the glacier, and winds strong enough to put them down on that ice multiple times. 

We had a chat as a group and concluded that our 18,000 foot high point (highest for all but the guides!) was certainly the best spot to turn around. It was a hard decision as Orizaba was our biggest goal. But ultimately we all agreed that safety on this huge exotic mountain was number one. 

We descended into a hot sunny afternoon and enjoyed our final evening with a delicious dinner, then made our way to the airport in the morning to some fond farewells. 

Until next time Orizaba!

Thanks to the team for a great trip and way too many memories to list here! 

RMI Guides Joe Hoch & Sam Hoffman

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