It strikes me that not too many foreign visitors ever think of exploring Mexico’s many mountains. Other than the handful who come here specifically to do so. I must confess, it didn’t really occur to me to try and climb one for the first few years. Probably due to the assumption that this is very much a specialist endeavor. I can pinpoint the moment I thought to look into it. We were driving to Oaxaca, and out of the window was Iztaccihuatl, looking large above the horizon. I stared at Izta a long while and wondered, ‘How hard can it be?’
It transpired that while it was clearly going to be more arduous that strolling around Chapultepec Park, climbing Izta wasn’t that difficult. My hunt around the web for information showed that plenty of people just stroll up wearing jeans and trainers. But that for a proper go at reaching the summit, it’s best to have a pair of hiking boots and a headlamp. You’ll need to camp overnight as well. But hire a guide and he’ll bring all that stuff for you.
I managed to get a few students interested, and we went for a practice run up the more manageable Nevado de Toluca first. That most definitely can be done in jeans and trainers. And it’s just a day trip. We went on to have a crack at Izta a few months later. We reached one of the summits, but not the true summit, across the glacier at the top. We were held back a bit by a late start, compounded by a couple of our group getting altitude sickness. My mountaineering compadres tried again the next year (without me, due to a dodgy knee) and succeeded.
It turned out that I liked climbing mountains. I went on to summit Ajusco on a couple of occasions and then did the Nevado again with a different group of friends. This photo is from that final venture. This is also the most profitable photo I’ve ever taken. It was bought by a company that produce inflight magazines for a few hundred dollars. Which made the climb doubly worthwhile.