Iztaccihuatl: The Sleeping Woman of Mexico
The dormant volcano of Iztaccihuatl, located just 70km from Mexico City, towers at 5230m above sea level, and is the third highest volcano in the country. The translation of the name "Iztaccihuatl" in the local native language is "White woman", due to the four main peaks of the volcano supposedly depicting the head, chest, knees and feet of a sleeping woman.
The volcano can often be seen from Mexico City on a clear day, and nestled within are six craters to explore, along with plenty of snow and glaciers, an uncommon sight in Mexico.
Due to its proximity to Mexico City, as well as its variety of challenging routes, it is renowned as a brilliant option for mountaineers wishing to train for more challenging climbs in the future, as well as people wanting to take the step up from beginners mountains.
Here are some of the best tips to help you start planning a mountaineering trip to Iztaccihuatl.
Climbing Routes in Iztaccihuatl
The most common and popular route to take is the traditional "Los Portillos" route, which is divided in to two sections. The first section entails climbing up to the De Los Cien mountain hut, and the second section is slightly more challenging due to the more challenging terrain, involving climbing to the Panza Glacier and then the summit of Pecho Glacier.
Another popular route with climbers of all levels is La Arista del Sol, which is slightly less technical than "Los Portillos".
Most tours meet in Mexico City, with its international airport a major hub.
The tour guides then drives 70km to La Joya parking lot, where you will begin your ascent.
How Long Does the Climb Take?
Most trips are over the course of 2 days, with the first day involving 3-5 hours of climbing and the second day involving 4-6 hours of climbing.
Ascending Iztaccihuatl is often combined with climbing other Mexican volcanoes nearby, such as Pico de Orizaba and La Malinche. These trips are often around 10-12 days in length, such as the 10-day Volcano and Culture Expedition, here, and the 11-day Pico de Orizaba, Izztaccihuatl, La Malinche summits tour, here.
If you would like to learn more about the epic and awe-inspiring Pico de Orizaba volcano, please have a read of our handy and informative guide to it, here.
Physical Requirements and Technical Difficulties
Climbing Iztaccihuatl is an intermediate-level challenge, as its high altitude and tricky terrain can cause problems for some.
A good level of fitness and acclimatization is recommended for any of the climbs on Iztaccihuatl, as you will need to carry a backpack for the time you will be climbing.
What is the Best Time to Climb Iztaccihuatl?
Despite Mexico being located in the subtropical zone, Iztaccihuatl has quite a cool climate, and closer to the peaks is a permanent alpine climate all-year-round, with snow and glaciers a constant presence.
Due to this, it is recommended that you dress in layers to keep warm.
What Equipment Do I Need?
The following equipment is recommended for this climb:
Comfortable boots (preferably waterproof and light),
Backpack of at least 30 L,
Thermal underwear (first layer),
Comfortable and athletic pants (no jeans, long-sleeved shirt (preferably be breathable or athletic type),
Sweater or sweatshirt (polar type or thermal material),
Hat, cap, scarf or bandana,
Gloves (preferably two pairs: the first thin and the second thick and waterproof),
Thermal socks (a polypropylene layer is recommended, also 1 pair in wool and 2 pairs in cotton).
Please note most guides will provide you with technical gear such as a helmet, ice axe, crampons, harness, cooking equipment, ropes, kit and GPS.
Pricing depends on the length of the trip and number of people in the group, but 2 or 3-day ascents start at $300 USD for larger groups and go up to $450-500 USD for smaller groups.
These generally all include the guiding fee, accommodation, transport and group equipment.
Climbing Iztaccihuatl is a truly memorable experience – start looking at our trips now!