Recently, or since the beginning of the year anyway, Popo and Izta have been visible from the city. They lie about three hours drive from DF, in Puebla state, but are so massive that they look like they are just of the edge of the city. It is a treat to be able to see them, because they are usually hidden from view, 365 days a year by the pollution that hangs over the city.
There is a mountain that lies on the edge of the city though, and whilst it isn’t as big as either Popo or Izta, it still towers an impressive 4000 metres over the city. You can get altitude sickness from 3000 metres upwards, which is a reasonable guide to how big it is. And apart from cloudy days, it’s always visible from my home. Daring me to climb it.
So yesterday, with two amigos, we set off on bicycles to do just that. There is a road that rings the mountain, so we thought we’d explore a bit on the bikes and find a nice route to walk up it. Riding bikes up mountain roads, it turns out, is really hard work. We arrived at a restaurant, opposite to a rarely trodden path up the mountain pretty tired. But we parked up, and set off on foot to give it a go anyway. The owner of the restaurant assured us, if we just followed the path, we couldn’t go wrong. An hour and a half to the summit he said.
Two hours later, having crawled on hands and knees under fallen tree trunks, strained weary knee joints clambering over other fallen tree trunks, been stung by nettles, gotten coated in dry dusty earth as we scrambled up slopes, we emerged from the tree line, to see a near vertical rocky slope leading up to a vertical cliff face and what we sincerely hoped would be a path onto the summit. That slope, about 35 to 50 metres high, was easily the most risky and plain dangerous bit of climbing I’ve ever done. Rocks the size of rugby balls came loose and hurtled down towards whoever happened to be below when you tried to grip them. One slip, and the fall would be bone breaking. Probably shouldn’t have done that climb.
Having made it to the top several things became evident. Firstly, there was no path around the cliff face that we had arrived at. Secondly, our suspicion that we’d taken the wrong path at some stage was confirmed. Thirdly, there was no way we could descend the way we’d come up. There’d be an accident. Fourthly, in the absence of serious mountaineering equipment, and years of experience, we wouldn’t be going up the cliff face to the summit. We’d been defeated. To summit, we’d have to descend, quite a distance, and start the climb again. Time and energy ruled that option out. By now, dinner and drinks back at the restaurant were more appealing than the thought of making the summit.
We did find an alternative route down, via some sliding down a side path covered in slide slowing undergrowth. And we did make it back to the restaurant, in one piece, to have a rabbit dinner. As you leave DF in the south, rabbit becomes a popular dish served at road side ramshackle restaurants. It is delicious stuff, especially when served in a adobadas sauce. But anyway, on this occasion, Ajusco had defeated us. We certainly didn’t take the easy route. We’ll do that next time. The photos on Flickr are here.