While many climbers self train for a majority of their climbing career, climbing schools can be a great catalyst for climbers who really want to bring their skill to the next level. There are a number of climbing schools around the world and across the United States. One of the climbing schools that is closer for us Americans is the AlpenGlow’s Mexican Volcanoes Mountaineering School. This program is aimed at teaching students about climbing high altitude glaciated peaks and increase self-sufficiency in the mountains. The program is only a week long, making it convenient for those of us who can’t get a lot of time off work or can’t afford a longer vacation. There are two time options every year, either the last week of November or the second week in December.
The school offers something for any climbing level- for beginners or climbers without a lot of glacier experience; the school goes through routes that can only take a few days of acclimatization. For those who want something a bit more challenging, the school teaches about glacier travel, crevasse rescue and rope systems.
During the week the class will attempt to climb two peaks, Iztaccihuatl (or Ixta as it is locally known) which is Mexico’s third highest peak at 17,154 feet (5,229 meters), and Orizaba, which is Mexico’s highest peak and the third highest in North America 18,410 feet (5,611 meters). Ixta isn’t terribly technical and will get students used to climbing expeditions and traveling on rope teams. Climbing Orizaba will build on what was learned climbing Ixta. Orizaba is more technical and is heavily glaciated. A highly trained, AMGA certified lead guides will supervise both of the climbs at no higher than a 3:1 ratio, ensuring that each climber gets individual attention. By having such small group sizes, each climber is ensured to learn everything they need to know about climbing effectively and safely. The individual attention from the climbing guides also ensures that your health and safety will be closely watched at all times.
The first night students will stay in a hotel in Mexico City, then throughout the trip, students will have pockets of time to explore Amecameca, in the Mexican highlands, which is famous for its market, La Joya, where we will camp on day three and Puebla, where we will rest for a day between the two climbs. Throughout the week we will see the beauty of historic Mexico with beautiful views of Mexican volcanoes stretching from one end of the Gulf of Mexico to the other. This includes the volcano Popo, which is currently erupting.
The week-long course costs $2,750 and covers everything for that week. After finishing both of the climbs students should be prepared to move on to other, bigger summits in the region. If it is possible, it is highly recommended to spend a little big of extra time around Mexico and South America both exploring the beautiful nature and cultures as well as possibly climbing more mountains around the area, after you have had enough time to rest and recover of course.