Climb Details


9 day(s)
Level 3 difficulty 

Upcoming Climbs

October 17, 2015 - FULL


Jake Beren

November 7, 2015 - FULL


JJ Justman , Mike King

January 16, 2016 - SIGN UP


Solveig Waterfall

February 13, 2016 - SIGN UP
March 5, 2016 - SIGN UP


Geoff Schellens, Eric Frank

"I thought the itinerary was perfectly balanced between amazing, challenging climbs and cultural experiences. While the trip would have been worthwhile for the climbing alone, it was the time we spent in the towns and countryside that really made it something special. Most people don't get to see the side of Mexico that we saw, and those experiences helped make the trip something I'll remember for the rest of my life. "

— Dan J. | 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.

Climbing on Orizaba

We begin our adventures in Mexico City, staying near from the quiet Zona Rosa that is one of the famous historical centers 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 Jamapa 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.


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.

Mexico's Pico de OrizabaIxta Summit Day

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.

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

Mexico's Volcanoes Map

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 Zona Rosa 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
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

Sunrise on Orizaba

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. Your outbound flight should be booked 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

Whittaker Mountaineering Whittaker Mountaineering

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 RMI2015.

Pack & Bag Guides' Pick

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2 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.

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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.

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PACK COVER (OPTIONAL): Protects your pack from rain while on the trail.

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DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.

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SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated 0° to 15° F. Either goose down or synthetic.

Technical Gear Guides' Pick

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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.

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CLIMBING HARNESS: We recommend a comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness. Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are convenient for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.

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1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.

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1 NON-LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for pack ditch loop, etc.

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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.

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CRAMPONS: The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.

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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.

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TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.

Head Guides' Pick

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WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.

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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.

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GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. 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.

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GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.

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HEADLAMP: Be sure to begin the program with fresh batteries.


Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

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LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.

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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.

Upper Body

We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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SPORTS BRA: We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.

Lower Body

We recommend a system of four 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.

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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.

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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.

Feet Guides' Pick

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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.

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HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.

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LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.

Garmont Zenith Trail
La Sportiva Exum Pro


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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.

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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

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LIP BALM: We recommend SPF 15 or higher.

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SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

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MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.

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3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.

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2 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.

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2 SETS ALKALINE BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.

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Travel Clothes

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3 - 4 SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.

Toilet Articles

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HAND SANITIZER(S): Personal size (2 oz.) bottle.

Personal First Aid Kit

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Dr. Scholl's Blister Cushions and Moleskin
Spenco 2nd Skin

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Personal Medications

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ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.

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TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain

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ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness

Utensils Guides' Pick

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BOWL: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.

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INSULATED MUG: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.

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SPOON or SPORK: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.

Optional Items

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Travel Documents

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PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.

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COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.

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Pre-Trip Checklist

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Purchase travel insurance.

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Purchase airplane tickets.

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Reserve rental equipment.

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Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!

Provided Equipment

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.



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.