Entries from Mexico
Buenas noches from our camp on Pico de Orizaba!
Today we traveled from Puebla well rested and ready for our next adventure. Arriving in Tlachichuca we rigged for the mountain in the familia Reyes compound, our base of operations. It is always a treat to come here and enjoy the hospitality (and lunch!) of old friends. What a way to start off the climb!
Now we are tucked away in our sleeping bags and off to the night land for a while before launching upward under the moonlight! Wish us suerte!
On The Map
We awoke yesterday from our odd “hut” at the base of Ixtaccihuatl (a hut for sure, but surrounded by a peculiar number of antennae) to clear skies and a perfect view of our lady and her fuming lover, Popo. These two volcanoes picked up a dusting of new snow with the weather of the last few days and could not look more beautiful in their fresh duds.
With a possible closing of this weather window the team launched towards high camp on Ixta, accompanied by grumbles from Popo as huge plumes of ash and steam spewed from the angry mountain. Ixta remained calm and welcoming to her respectful visitors. We made our camp and turned in for our first night up high on our host and awoke to perfect climbing conditions.
As we climbed this anthropomorphic mountain, up and down the anatomy of a passionate princess of the past, we eventually found ourselves on the unsupported summit at sunrise. We can only assume that Popo admired our approach as he belched approval on our descent.
It was quite a day and as we returned to the land of mortals in beautiful Puebla, a fresh blanket of clouds covered our hostess. We are grateful for the hospitality and look forward to resting in the lowlands of Puebla for a day. Perhaps Pico de Orizaba will shun the blanket for us mountain lovers from the North in a few days time. Put in a word for us will you?
Hello, This is Jake calling in from the summit of Ixta. The entire team is sitting on top watching the sunrise on a beautiful morning. We have light winds and temps are pretty pleasant. We did a great job today, and everybody climbed super strong [call lost].
RMI Guide Jake Beren
RMI Guide Jake Beren calls from the summit of Ixtaccihuatl.
On The Map
Buenos tardes from High Camp on Ixta.
The team is doing great, and we are about to shut down for the night so that we can get up super early and go for the climb. But the team is strong, spirits are high, and everybody did a great job getting to camp today. We’ll give you a shout from as high as we get tomorrow and look forward to checking in then.
RMI Guide Jake Beren checks in from High Camp on Ixtaccihuatl.
On The Map
Yesterday our exodus from the beating heart of Mexico City brought us to the cloudy base of La Malinche, an extinct Volcano and site of our first foray to altitude. The clouds stayed saturated with moisture, but didn’t really unleash on us for the bulk of the hike. We were able to make it to around 12,500 feet before the wet cloud was accompanied by some wind and it became clear that we weren’t going to get much benefit by soaking ourselves for a few hundred feet more of elevation. Keeping things civilized, we returned to our cabin in the hills for a little R&R, some gear sorting and a nice fire after dinner. The team is doing great and we are now enjoying a fantastic breakfast next to a waterfall before getting rustic on Ixta. The weather looks to clearing up a little and just in time! Keep those fingers crossed for some good weather for our team and we will check in from high camp on Ixta!
On The Map
Last night our crew assembled for the first time in the lobby of our hotel to start the process of building a team. There is quite a lot of experience spread throughout our squad and I look forward to seeing everyone get to know a few of Mexico’s big mountains.
Today we will leave this bustling metropolis and head for La Malinche, our first acclimatization hike. We ought to be on the trail this afternoon for our first taste of some thin air. Tonight we will stay at the old Olympic training facility to sleep around 10,000 feet above the sea. We’ve hit the ground running (or efficiently jogging) and look forward to getting started.
Off to a good start!
RMI Guide Jake Beren
As I wrapped up this trip, I couldn’t help but remember the last time I visited Ixta. I was guiding a man in his 70’s up. He was making the trip on his own. The extraordinary thing: he was on a lot of medication, he had a stint placed in his heart and a piece of his lung removed. His effort was impressive. We made four different expeditions, increasing the number of O2 bottles used during the ascent.
When I’m on climbs like the one I just finished, I’m also reminded of my mission to be an ambassador for the sport (and to keep people smiling even when they are hurting). I want people who join me, especially when it’s their first time climbing, to be challenged, but not to be destroyed because it’s too tough. The trip I just finished was with a great group—novices, but an enthusiastic crowd for sure. Everyone checked their egos at the airport when we landed and fully embraced the journey. We also developed a shared responsibility that bonds us on the climb and I think long after it’s over.
In the end, these climbs can change people’s perspective on life and things back home especially when the conditions are extreme. What happens on the mountain, combined with that disconnect from the daily grind, is essentially a recharging through depletion, fed by the beauty and simplicity of nature along the way, as well as the experiencing of different cultures. The once-in-a-lifetime climb is more than just the trip itself. It’s the memories, and the gratitude we develop for being healthy enough to experience something so amazing, yet take on something totally out of our comfort zone. It’s also stepping back when we are home taking nothing for granted.
I remind everyone I work with to remember it’s not about the summit, it’s the entire experience that matters—that’s what will fill their tanks months after they’ve unpacked and settled back into life. This group—they fully embraced that notion. They didn’t grab for just a slice on the mountain—they went for the entire pie. I love introducing newcomers with that kind of get-it-done attitude to this sport. These guys accepted the challenges that came with it and had a laugh doing so.
I’m fortunate to have great clients and work for a great company like RMI. Both remind me, and I hope by reading this reminds you (and my latest team!), to get out there and do something big every day. Mount Rainier is the perfect intro for climbing novices. It allows curious people to stop wondering and get out there and try something—and to share something really cool with family and friends. And remember that guy in his 70’s? He didn’t tackle Mount Everest, but his conquest was equally butt-kicking. Ixta was his Everest. Any mountain, or challenge for that matter, can be an Everest-sized achievement.
Great job team!
RMI Guide Mark Tucker
This is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read about the philosophy of alpinism. Thank you Mark!
Posted by: Wolf Riehle on 8/20/2015 at 4:51 am
Mark did an unbelievable job getting us as far up Orizaba as we got, and then letting us make the call on whether we wanted to push for the summit late in the day. We opted not to for safety (and a few other reasons,) but Mark made sure to put the whole thing in context for us, and did so brilliantly. It’s never about the result, but about the climb.
You are EL HOMBRE, Mark.
Posted by: Spencer Hall on 8/19/2015 at 5:19 pm
Hey Mark Tucker checking in. What a 24-hour period we’ve had. Wow. Amazing night up there on Orizaba. Crazy weather, amazing light storm going on and little bit of hail. The team got up early and we put in our work, and we just had a fabulous climb. It was wonderful event that we all participated in and it’s been go time ever since. Back down here all cleaned up and doing well at the Reyes Compound. We’re just having so much fun; we don’t want this trip to end. We’re going to come away from this thing with some happy hearts and lots of experience. So we’re just looking forward to getting back out there when we can. Thanks.
RMI Guide Mark Tucker checks in from Mexico.
A nice rest day here in Puebla. Beautiful morning to wander around and get the pulse of this historic part of Mexico. We are still at about 7,000 ft, what an nice way to acclimatize. Great food all over here in old town. Add in a bit of sightseeing in some old cathedrals, some more shopping and let’s not forget the siesta. We will be in great shape for our summit bid on Orizaba tomorrow night.
We are down in the beautiful city of Puebla today. The team and I had a great time on Ixta. What a sight to wake up to the neighbor mountain, Popo, venting a lot of steam from it’s top on a crystal clear morning. No wonder it has been closed to climbing for years now. We spent part of the morning packing up so we would not have to return to the hut after skills training. Fun day getting to practice the nuts and bolts for the climb ahead on Orizaba- crampons, ice axe, and rope training were the featured program for the day. So fun to see the enthusiasm when you pull out and put on this type of hardware. The team did well adapting to some new toys and techniques. I feel that they all performed to a high enough standard that I would be willing to rope up with any one of them. It is a special bond up here in the mountains that can happen very quickly.