Ascent to Volcán Iztaccíhuatl-South Ridge on 1993-01-14

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, January 14, 1993
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Volcán Iztaccíhuatl - South Ridge
    Elevation:14403 ft / 4390 m
    Remaining Elevation:2700 ft / 822 m (64% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

(Note: This trip report uses the 24-hour clock or "military time")

0700-1000: Woke up at Tlamacas lodge, ate a leisurely breakfast, and arranged to be ferried over to La Joya, the trailhead for Izta, by the cab taking a group of three guys I had met last night into Amecameca.

1000-1200: Waited for a cab to come out on the sunny plaza next to the Tlamacas Lodge. Phone service was down, so I just had to wait. I talked at length with the three guys--from Victoria, BC, Boise, ID, and Port Angeles, WA--whose cab I was sharing, plus to a guy from Bremerton, WA, who had already done Popo and Izta and was on his way to Orizaba. We were upset when a cab came at about 1030 but took a couple who we didn't see who had been waiting.

1200-1215: Rode down to the Paso de Cortes in a cab that finally came, with the three guys on their way to Amecameca. The cabbie said that the road to La Joya was too rough for his cab, so he couldn't take me there.

1215-1230: Hiked up the snow-covered dirt road up towards La Joya, with my full pack.

1215-1230: Two trucks came up the road behind me, and I stuck out my thumb and was given a ride by two Mexicans who worked at the TV tower up near La Joya. I was able to converse with them in my poor Spanish, and thanked them lots for saving me a lot of the walk up the very snowy, muddy road. They left me off where the road forked, they taking the fork to the TV towers.

1230-1245: Hiked up the snowy but fairly flat road to its end at the little parking lot called La Joya, at 13,124 feet. A truck passed me, heading downhill.

1245-1315: Ate lunch, organized my pack, and stashed the stuff I would not need on my planned climb of Iztaccihuatl in a rock crevice in a field away from the end of the road. As I started my hike three tourists came up to La Joya, but they were not mountaineers.

1315-1450: Hiked up the trail from La Joya to a saddle on the long south ridge of Izta at about 14,400 feet. The trail was easy to follow, with lots of footprints in the inch or so of snow covering everything, as it followed first the left side of the ridge, crossed a saddle, then climbed steeply up the right side. The weather was bizarre--very hot and sunny one minute, overcast and very cloudy the next.

1450-1520: As I rested at the 14,400 foot saddle, it started to snow, and thick clouds with thunder and lightning enveloped the mountain. When these conditions didn't change after twenty minutes, I decided to retreat. This was because I was counting on finding a hut to spend the night in, having no tent or sleeping bag, and finding the hut in a white-out would not be easy. Also, I had no headlamp, and it was getting late in the day, and being stranded in darkness would not be any fun. Plus, I had already used one of the four quarts of water that had to last me the next day and a half, I was always paranoid of electrical storms, the snow made the footing slippery, and the route ahead looked difficult even in great weather.

1520-1600: Hiked back downhill to La Joya, it snowing and thundering practically the whole way down.

1600-1645: Retrieved my stuff and rested at La Joya, then hiked down the road back to the fork, and then down the road towards the Paso de Cortes. It cleared up considerably, with Izta sunny and visible above the clouds, but big thunderheads were on their way. I didn't regret my decision to turn back at all.

1645-1700: Got a ride down to the Paso de Cortes in a Volkswagen bus driven by TV station workers on their way down. They couldn't take me to Amecameca, though, because their license plate number forbidded them from driving on this day. Therefore, they asked the guys in a capped pickup behind them on the road if they would take me down to Amecameca, and they said they would.

1700-1930: The guys in the pickup, TelMex employees, gave me a ride all the way back into Mexico City, insisting on taking me the whole way. I talked to them at length, in Spanish, and one guy, Ignacio, practiced his English when talking to me. It was interesting spending all this time with Mexicans like this. They let me off at the Xola Metro station south of downtown, near their phone company office.

1930-2000: Took the Metro to the Zona Rosa, attracting attention since I was still clad in Gore-Tex and had my heavy pack to lug around.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1509 ft / 459 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1837 ft / 559 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Cool, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1509 ft / 459 m
    Route:South Ridge
    Start Trailhead:La Joya Road  12894 ft / 3930 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1837 ft / 559 m
    Route:South Ridge
    End Trailhead:La Joya Road  12566 ft / 3830 m

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