El Pico de Orizaba
This dormant volcano has the honor of also being the highest peak in Mexico at 5,702.6 meters (or 18,697 feet) in height. It is snow-capped year round and is possessed of a symmetrical conical peak.
Citlaltépetl is located in southern Mexico between Mexico City and Veracruz. The last recorded eruption of the volcano occurred in 1846. It was first climbed in 1848.
The mountain overlooks the city of Orizaba, which lends its name to the peak. Among its geological distinctions are the following:
- 3rd highest peak in North America, behind Mount McKinley in Alaska and Canada's Mount Logan
- 2nd most prominent volcanic peak following Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro
- 7th ranked in the world in its topographic prominence
- 16th ranking as most topographically isolated
The volcano is a popular destination with mountain climbers. The peak is the highest point between Columbia and Alaska, attracting many climbing enthusiasts. The climb features snow pack and glaciers as well as rocky stretches.
The climb is not especially challenging, being rated accessible to advanced beginner mountaineers. The steepest slopes are about 45 degrees. The mountain climbing base camps can be driven to in 4 wheel drive vehicles. These camps are at almost 14,000 feet elevation, leaving just 4,500 feet for climbing. While not as challenging as some peaks, it still presents obstacles to climbers. The elevation promises very thin air for climber's lungs. As with most mountains, sudden fog and rain can set in, reducing visibility and making surfaces treacherous.
Organized climbing expeditions are available for those wishing to make the ascent. Plan on several days to become acclimated to the elevation and to perhaps scale some of the neighboring peaks before the final assault.