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Ascent to Volcán Iztaccíhuatl-Crater rim on 2001-12-09

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Date:Sunday, December 9, 2001
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Volcán Iztaccíhuatl - Crater rim
    Location:Mexico
    Elevation:5029 m / 16500 ft
    Remaining Elevation:191 m / 626 ft (2% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

This was our third summit attempt during this Mexico trip. Earlier we had an unsuccessful try at La Malinche and Pico de Orizaba. I was very determined to conquer, at least, one Mexican volcano before having to return home. Our team consisted of 3 members, Fred, my wife, Geri, and myself. The climb to the base camp hut was much more difficult than I expected. It took our team 6 hours to make the 2500 foot gain. The trail was steep in places and it was a rough day to have before a 17,000+ foot volcano the next day. The hut was much smaller than the hut at Pico de Orizaba, plus it was a weekend, so the small hut filled up. I was very glad we had arrived there early. Since the hut was so crowded and dusty, I did not sleep very well. I wasn't feeling very well and I had to force dinner down before retiring at dark (6:00pm). We got up at 4:00am and I was still not feeling right, but I was not running a fever, so I decided to continue. It was hard packing up in the dark, crowded hut. It was cold and I had to wear 3 layers. I did not start to climb until 5:30am. Fred got started earlier and I never caught up with him. Geri quickly decided to quit after only 10 minutes because the trail was very steep on loose scree. It was cold, dark and hard going. The sun came out before I reached the first ridge, which was nice, but it remained cold with a 10-15 mi/hr wind. I climbed very slowly. The altitude affected me greatly. It was very discouraging to reach a crest and see that I had to descend before climbing again. This happened 3 times! The third time I finally saw the glacier and it was very discouraging because the summit was a long distance away and it was very steep. In addition, I developed bad diarrhea and it took me nearly 4 hours to reach the glacier from the hut. I spent 15 minutes trying to decide what to do, but I finally realized the distance was too great to take a chance on trying to make the summit, especially in the condition I was in. I headed back to the hut with horrible stomach problems all the way down. It was a very slow descent. It took me over 2 hours to reach the hut and my good wife had everything packed up and ready to descend. Fred arrived back at the hut just 15 minutes later, after successfully reaching the summit. We hiked back to the trailhead in 2 1/2 hours. Our transportation arrived right on time 45 minutes later. When we reached the motel, I cleaned up and went straight to bed. My wife and Fred went out to eat. It was frustrating to make 3 summit attempts in Mexico now and not reach a single summit, but I had made the correct decision to give up my summit bid for Izaccihuatl with the way I felt. For myself, the greatest limiting factor conquering Mexican volcanos was my health and having to meet pre-arranged transportation. We enjoyed good weather on each climb and there were no technical mountaineering difficulties beyond my skill level. I hope to return someday and get a few Mexican volcanos "under my belt" if I don't have the same health problems below my belt!
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