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12-day Volcanoes and culture in Mexico: La Malinche, Iztaccihuatl and Pico de Orizaba

Join Mick, an AMGA-certified mountain guide, for this 12 day mountaineering adventure and cultural journey through the Sierra Nevada of central Mexico!

Mountain RangeSierra Nevada
Duration12 days
Offer periodNov
Skill LevelBeginner
Fitness LevelFit
Type of tripGroup


  • Summit 3 impressive peaks in the Sierra Nevada during this 12 day adventure

  • Stand on top of Mexico as you summit Pico de Orizaba at 18,500 ft!

  • Discover anotherside of Mexico as we explore the countryside in Puebla


Explore several stunning peaks of Mexico’s legendary Sierra Nevada in an adventure that combines impressive mountaineering objectives with unique cultural immersion!

Explore another side of this multi-faceted country as we discover the stunning natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a volcanic belt of gorgeous snowcapped peaks that crosses central Mexico.  The highest peaks in the country, and some of the highest peaks in North America, are located within this range. Plus, two of Mexico’s most vibrant cities, Puebla and the country’s capital, Mexico City, are tucked away within the Sierra Nevada.

This 12 day program includes summits of 3 gorgeous peaks, plus plenty of wonderful cultural experiences and delicious authentic Mexican cuisine. We start the program with 2 days exploring La Malinche, which at 4,461 m/14,636 ft will serve as a great acclimatization climb.  The climb consists of hiking with some scrambling – nothing technical. Next, we head to Iztaccihuatl. This snowcapped peak rises to an impressive 5,230 m/17,160 ft and is Mexico’s 3rd highest peak. Depending on conditions, this may be the most technical peak we attempt, and our climb will last 2-3 days.

Finally, we head to Mexico’s highest peak, and the 3rd highest in all of North America: Pico de Orizaba (5,636m/18,491ft). We will follow the Japama Glacier route to the summit for a 2 day climb that may not be as technical as Iztaccihuatl, but is challenging in its own right due to the high altitude.  For more information on the itinerary, a day-by-day outline is provided below.

During our climbing days, we will sleep in campsites or mountain huts.  In between climbs, we will be based at comfortable cabanas and hostels in the Mexican countryside. We will have the chance to explore the surrounding towns, getting at taste of rural Mexican life, as well as delicious homecooked meals.  It is also worth noting that I have personally traveled throughout the area and I have never had any issues with violence.  The areas we will be staying in are not near the known cartel areas and we will stick to major highways and tollroads.

While there are technical aspects to these mountains and the use of crampons, ice axes, and ropes will be required, no previous experience is required to participate in this trip. We will have time for instruction and coaching so that you can familiarize yourself with  mountaineering equipment and techniques.  A good fitness level is required, however, to make tough ascents at altitude. Participants should be able to hike up to 8 miles per day for 8 consecutive days carrying a 25 pound pack.

Book this incredible adventure now and you will spend a magical 12 days  discovering the highest peaks and fascinating culture of Mexico!

Check out my other adventures: All levels mountaineering in North Cascades, 14-day Rock climbing and cultural tour of Liming, China, or Intermediate mountaineering course in North Cascades!


We will be based at Cabanas San Luis Malinche, located on the Malinche Nature Reserve, during a portion of this trip. Our base during our climb of Orizaba will be Servimont Climbers Hostel, which is located in a converted soap factory and has been in business for 40 years. In Mexico City, we will be staying at a 3/4 star hotel in the trendy Roma District. Of course, during our climbs we will stay on the mountain - at times in camps we establish ourselves, at times in mountain huts.

Meeting point

We will meet you at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City




Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City

Arrive into the busy metropolis of Mexico City (elevation of 7,350ft).  We will meet you at the airport and from there the group will head 50-60 miles outside the city to Cabanas San Luis Malinche.  Before dinner, we take a short walk to see the area, and prepare for tomorrow’s climb. We can leave items we don’t want to take with us on the mountain at Cabanas San Luis Malinche.

Day 2: La Malinche - Campsite

We head to La Malinche today. As Mexico’s 5th highest mountain, we will spend a couple of days acclimatizing before heading to even higher peaks. We ascend to the treeline until we reach a convenient saddle – the perfect place to camp. We will enjoy a relaxing evening together before heading to our tents for the night.

Day 3: La Malinche - Summit

Following breakfast, we begin our push to the summit of La Malinche, at 4,462m/14,640ft.  If someone isn’t feeling well enough to reach the summit, there are options for other beautiful hikes. On our way down, we break camp and return to Cabanas for a great night’s sleep.

Day 4: Iztaccihuatl - Base Camp at La Joya

We head to Iztaccihuatl, also called Itza, which is located 45 miles outside of Mexico City and is a more technical mountain than La Maliche. We’ll enjoy lunch in Amecameca.

If we can, we will stay at the Altzimont Hut for the night, otherwise we will set up our own camp at La Joya (12,800ft). Before we fall asleep, we will conduct a gear check before beginning tomorrow’s ascent.

Day 5: Iztaccihuatl - High Camp

We typically follow the Ridge of the Sun Route (la Arista del Sol) during this climb (depending on conditions). This is considered the standard route up the mountain. The technical aspect of the mountain includes easily passable shallow crevasses and short ice cliffs.

It should take us about 5 hours to reach our high camp at about 15,500ft. There’s a basic hut there with wood bunks.  After we arrive, we’ll take an opportunity to review our crampon and ice axe skills for the following day’s summit push.

Day 6: Summit Iztaccihuatl

Our summit day will last between 8-12 hours, so we will start early. Once we reach the summit, we’ll celebrate the moment with incredible views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the cities of Puebla and Mexico City. After we arrive back down at base camp, we meet our vehicle for our transfer back to Cabanas San Luis Malinche, where hot showers and comfortable beds await.

Day 7: Rest/Travel Day

A 150km vehicle transfer takes us to the town of Tlachichuca, where we arrive at the Servimont Climbers Hostel. This historic hostel has served climbers for over 40 years. In the afternoon, we have the chance to explore the town and market. After a delicious dinner, we get ready for our climb of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain.

Day 8: Orizaba - Piedra Grande Hut

Following breakfast, a 4×4 vehicle transfer takes us to the Piedra Grande Hut, which will be our base camp for this climb.  We will further acclimatize by bringing some gear and water up the mountain to the labyrinth, before returning back to base camp. There, we have the opportunity for more ice axe and crampon training.

Day 9: Orizaba - High Camp

We head to our high camp, which sits at about 14,800ft. Once there, we’ll explore the terrain of the “labyrinth” section of the mountain, preparing ourselves to climb in the dark during the following day’s summit push. We’ll turn in early for the evening.

Day 10: Orizaba - Summit

We leave high camp at around 2am. We follow the Glacier de Jamapa route, which has a 35 degree slope that requires ropes, as there are patches of hard ice.  After passing the labyrinth, we reach the glacier, continuing until we reach the crater rim.  The rim eventually leads us to the official summit at 5,640m/18,500ft, where the view extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the central plateau of Mexico.

We then descend to Piedra Grande Hut, where a 4×4 takes us back to Servimont Climbers Hostel.

Day 11: Transfer to Mexico City

We head back to Mexico City.  If we arrive early enough, we will have time for some afternoon sightseeing. You may want to fly out this evening, in which case we will take you to the airport. If not, we have the evening/night to enjoy the city.

Day 12: Departure

Transfer to Benito Juarez International Airport for your flight home.

About the guide

guide profile img

Mick has traveled the world over in search of the perfect mountain experience. After working for years under other companies’ ethos and philosophies, nothing quite fit with his personal convictions and passions. In 2006 he set out on his own to make his vision of the holistic mountain experience a reality for anyone who shared his passion for the outdoors.

Having traveled all over the U.S. as the son of a railroad employee, Mick is accustomed to movement and new views. Mexico, Canada, Thailand, Taiwan, Europe, South America, Tanzania are some of the places and cultures that have shaped and influenced Mick.

Currently, Mick resides in Seattle, WA managing Kaf Adventures and continuing to hold the vision of this ever evolving company. He works tirelessly to continue to provide world-class experiences that provide knowledge and a greater perspective of the great outdoors.

Mick’s true passion is education. He has found a unique passion for educating aspiring instructors and guides in the U.S. You will find him outside helping new leaders gain confidence in their ability to make decisions in complex environments.

When he is not in the field (where he spends over 100 days a year) you can find him creating electronic music and making people dance. Mick has a habit of making those around him smile, and you might just wonder when he sleeps!

Mick is an American Mountain Guide Association certified Rock and Alpine Guide, SPI Program Provider, AMGA Instructor Team Member, LNT Master trainer, a Wilderness First Responder, a certified Level 3 AIARE avalanche graduate, an instructor for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, and speaks Spanish and a little Swahili.

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Prices per person

Group of 1

USD 3403 each

Group of 2

USD 3403 each

Group of 3

USD 3403 each

Group of 4

USD 3403 each

Group of 5

USD 3403 each

Group of 6

USD 3403 each

Group of 7

USD 3403 each

Group of 8

USD 3403 each

Want a different number of travellers?

Price includes

• Guiding fee

• Accommodation

• Permit and entrance fees

• Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Price details

• Price per person for joining a group. Includes: All accommodations in Mexico, all transportation in Mexico, professional guides, fees, permits, all meals (except when in Mexico City), group climbing equipment. Does not include: Flights to Mexico, visa fees, personal climbing equipment (we can help arrange rentals), personal climbing accessories, other personal items, gratuities, misc. spending money, drinks, meals in Mexico City.

What people are saying about -Mick Pearson