Ascent of Pico de Orizaba on 2013-01-01

Climber: Kelsey Backen

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Pico de Orizaba
    Elevation:18491 ft / 5636 m

Ascent Trip Report

After researching on the internet and taking into account all of the factors, I decided climbing the Cada Sur would be my best option. It afforded a shorter car ride from Cordoba (where I was staying), a potentially snow-less climb (I had no experience climbing in snow and wanted to avoid it), and a steeper approach, all of which gave me the opportunity to do a solo climb in the shortest time possible. Besides, it was BY FAR the less popular and commercialized route, which appealed to me. There were still a lot of questions I had.
First, I did not know how my body would handle the altitude and didn't want to take my time in climbing it, nor did I want to acclimate for days in a refugio. A few days before the climb I had just bagged the highest peak of my life on La Malinche with little difficulty, so I at least knew I wouldn't get sick at 14,600 ft. Second, I didn't quite know how to get there (nor did anyone in my wife's family, whom we were visiting in Cordoba). Furthermore, they all thought I was crazy for wanting to climb it, as all they hear about are people dying. Lastly, I needed to time the climb to have a viable weather window.
After being in Mexico almost a week I had a chance to observe the weather and realized my time was potentially running out to make a safe and fast summit attempt. A day after, and sore from my Malinche hike, the family and I went to Coscomatepec which is at the Eastern base of the Pico to gather intel and eat at a favorite restaurant. Unfortunately, the mountain was completely hidden behind the dense fog, however we were able to get on the internet so I could check the weather and do more route research on how to drive to the southern face. I saw that the next couple of days would hold the best weather and knew I needed to get in gear if I was to even attempt to summit. The next day my wife, 14 month old son, and I "borrowed" a truck and set off to make it to the south face of the mountain via the roads we had chosen from maps and info obtained from a Spanish mountaineer who documented his attempt of the Cada Sur. A few hours later we were 13K feet in elevation and I was trying to turn the 4X2 truck around before we got stuck. We had found our route.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4711 ft / 1435 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5696 ft / 1736 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Sunny, cold, windy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4711 ft / 1435 m
    Route:Cada Sur (South Face)
    Start Trailhead:Close to the end of the rough two-track, just belo  13780 ft / 4200 m
    Time:4 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5696 ft / 1736 m
    Route:Cada Sur (South Face)
    End Trailhead:Close to the end of the rough two-track, just belo  12795 ft / 3899 m
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes

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