Ascent of Volcán La Malinche on 2012-12-29

Climber: Kelsey Backen

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, December 29, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Volcán La Malinche
    Elevation:14560 ft / 4437 m

Ascent Trip Report

We (my wife, her cousin, and I) left from downtown Cordoba, Veracruz at approximately 5:30 am, taking we took Mexico 150 west toward Puebla. About 19km from Puebla, we took the Perote exit toward Huamantla. Eventually we exited a more northern road that would take us through Ixtenco to Huamantla.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When passing through Ixtenco, don’t follow the sign pointing you due west for the Centro Vocacional IMSS, unless you want to take a slow rough dirt road to the eastern edge of the forest surrounding La Malinche, where you would end up following a more maintained dirt road within the Parque National La Malinche in a northwestern heading.

In hindsight, it seems as though there are a lot of approach options by car if you have an off road vehicle, but maps seem to be hard to come bye. Eventually we came to the very nice paved road that leads to the Centro Vocacional at the Northern foot of La Malinche. What we should have done (instead of the wrong turn at Ixtenco) was continue north through Ixtenco, and on to Huamantla, then head
Centro Vocacional Costs 60 pesos to park (though you could probably get away with parking outside the park and not pay.

The weekends are said to be busy with families vacationing, and there were a lot of people, though when we went it didn’t feel packed.
Now for the hike…
I left the Centro, taking the main road/trail (worn concrete) S/SE and following the signs up the gradual uphill. A few minutes up the road is an obvious dirt trail (not a 2-track) that heads in the direction of the peak (mostly south). Leave the cement road and take the trail, as the road will traverse the slope of the mountain, adding distance to your trip. There will be one portion of the early hike where you will need to hike on the cement road again, just watch for the large sign pointing you up the main trail again. Soon after the gradient will significantly increase for a decent chunk of time.
An hour after beginning the hike I had cleared the tree line and the gradient lessened on the approach to the base of the final steep ascent. I’m guessing that the elevation at this point was ~12,500, with 2k to go. I chose to avoid the large drainage chute, as it was loose sandy footing, and instead, traversed toward a western ridge between La Malinche and Cerro Tlachichihuatzi. The footing is grassy with scattered rock, but mostly sure footing. My pace slowed and I needed to focus on pressure breathing more than I ever have before, so I assumed I must have been above 13,000 feet. I finally made the ridge and soon after it became mostly rocky but very stable footing. I crested the rocky ridge, which looks like the actual summit from below, but once it is met you see the actual summit another 100 meters away.

This is the only part of the hike that I would call class 3, in that I needed to use my hands. I didn’t look for a more gradual way up to the peak, so there may have been an easier route up the final 10 meters. There were probably 10 people on the summit when I arrived and I conversed with them a while as best as I could in Spanish and then hit the stop button on my stopwatch. It read 2:45, and I had probably up there at least 5 minutes before stopping it. I had taken two breaks during the hike, both towards the beginning of the hike, the first to urinate and remove my jacket and gloves and the second, to remove my long sleeve shirt and pants. It was a warm day and I was over-dressed to start.
I took a video of the view, ate some snacks, drank some water, and then headed down, starting my stopwatch. Once I cleared the rocky ridgeline I took the main sandy chute route down. This went very fast as I used my trekking poles for balance and speed checking. It seemed that the other hikers (mostly going up) were looking at me in either awe or longing (as they were probably wishing there were going down too). I felt bad for many of them as they chose to ascend the sandy chute and the loose footing area nearby the chute. I even stopped toward the bottom of the steep portion of the chute to attempt to talk to a group of 8 hikers and advise them against using the chute. They seemed appreciative.
I left that group and continued down the trail until my feet started to hurt from all of the rocks and sand filling my shoes. I stopped to empty them out. The rest of the journey was straightforward, and I moved quickly, only slowing to talk to a few groups along the way. I met up with my wife and her cousin and hit my stopwatch at the gate of the Centro, the time read: 1:15. It had taken 4:00 of moving time to complete the journey, with approximately a 20-minute un-timed break at the top.
My final take on La Malinche is there are probably multiple routes to the peak, from all directions. Most of them seemed safe, but some will be much easier than others.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4455 ft / 1357 m
    Route:Main Hiking Route from trailhead
    Trailhead:Centro Vocacional  10105 ft / 3080 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Warm and sunny
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes

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