Standing at 17,333 feet above sea level; the summit was within reach. Calling me and taunting me to continue. The glacier had become Solid water ice, and became impenetrable with ice axes and crampons. It was at this moment a decision had to be made, and it was an easy call. My first thought was “there are old climbers, and there are bold climbers.” The summit isn’t going anywhere, and I can always come back with more suitable conditions arise. I have been waiting almost a year for this moment. Roberto “Oso” and I had been in contact over several months and I was prepared for a solo expedition on Pico de Orizaba; the highest mountain in Mexico, and third highest in North America at 18,491 feet. This was my first formal mountaineering experience as a Solo climber. I had an acclimatization climb to 15,600 feet. Sierra Negra was absolutely awesome, and I was feeling strong at the top, and ready to get on Orizaba. We left the Hostel at 8 am, to hopefully be at the hut before noon. It was a grueling off road ride that seemed to last forever. It was everything you could expect from a tiny mountain community.
The Hut is a busy little shack that sits at the base of the climb at 14,000 feet. This 3 storied structure looked like it was ready to come down, but none the less it was home for the next 3 nights, and I loved it. As fate would have it I met some other American’s from Denver and Cambridge. What started out as a solo ascent turned into a good sized 3 team project on the mountain, it was comforting to know someone had my back. The Colorado team consisted of 6 climbers, and the Massachusetts team had 2. We started prepping for the summit with an acclimatization climb to the base of the Glacier just to get a feel for early afternoon weather conditions. On the descent I wasn’t sure if there was enough energy left within me to push for the summit the next day. After making the decision to continue on with the help of some Tequila and a worm, it was time for bed. I figured if I could drink at 14,000 feet and feel fine, then there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to give it everything and try for the top. It was 3am, we had an hour to gear up, fuel up, and head out.
|Roberto "Oso" Flores Orizaba |
|Big Agnes Zirkel UL20|