Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3 Highest Mountains of Mexico

In a land best know for its warm coastal beaches, Mexico is also home to numerous mountains.  Volcanoes, both active and not, stretch their summits towards the heavens in dizzying heights.  In all, the country has over 20 mountains with peaks that exceed 10,000 feet above sea level.

The majority of the mountains are located in the center of the country.  West of the Gulf of Mexico and east of its capital city, Puebla is the best choice for a base to explore the region.  All but one is climbable and with such easily accessible summits the mountains draw climbers from around the world.

The three most popular and visible are:

1.      Pico de Orizaba – 18,491 ft.  Often referred to as Citilatepetl is the tallest of all Mexican mountains.  Ranked third highest elevation in North America behind Mt. McKinney and Mt. Logan, it is also second highest volcanic peak in the world.  Only the world famous Mt. Kilimanjaro stands higher in that geological class. Other than its height the summit is very straight forward.  Piedra Grande is a hut located at the base of the mountain and serves as the primary starting point for 90% of all climbers.  Orizaba can be climbed year around, but the best season is from December through March.  During this time you will find climbers on its routes from all over the globe.  Even though it can be considered easy by some, each year the extreme altitude claims the lives of those attempting to reach the top.

2.      Volcan Popocatepetl – 17,749 ft.  Popo, as it is called by the locals is currently Mexico’s only active volcano.  The latest eruption occurred in the summer of 2013 and caused delays to many of the major airlines servicing Mexico City.  Not long ago, this peak was a highly sought after summit.  However, when an eruption happened in 1994 that changed.   Popo is now deemed unsafe and has had additional notable activity.  Seeing the plum of smoke escaping from the top cone is a wonder in itself.

3.      Volcan Iztaccihuatl – 17,159 ft.  Nicknamed the “White Woman” for its     perpetual snow cap, this mountain can be easily seen from Mexico City.  Since the eruption of Popocatepetl, “Ixta” has taken on a much more prominent role in the country’s climbing community.  Technically this mountain is not difficult and you may find young and old climbers on its sides.  There are several false summits so it is imperative you find the correct one before heading back down.  If you follow the most popular route referred to as the Ridge of the Sun it should not be a problem.

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