Route: Pico de Orizaba (Mexico)


Orizaba (18,491') is the highest peak in Mexico and 3rd highest in North America.  We're not aware of a lot of FKT activity on Orizaba, but Sean O'Rourke pointed out this interesting tidbit:

"Hector Ponce is one of the best high altitude mountaineers in the world. His impressive list of ascents includes: Mt. Everest 8848m (summitting three times: 1996, 2002, and 2004), three  ascents on K2 8611m, two ascents on Kangchenjunga 8585m, summit ascents on  Shisha Pangma 8047m, Cho Oyu 8200, Gasherbrum II 8035 and Broad Peak 8042.
His list of technical ascents on Alpine Faces is equally impressive, with ascents on Aconcagua South Face (where he ascended in alpine style the dangerous and highly technical 10,000' face in 3 days), Huayna Potosi (6080m)West face (3000 vertical feet of ice in 7 hrs), Mont Blanc du Tacul- a 24hr ascent of the Gervasutti Pillar (5.10, Mixed IV, 1400m) just to name a few.
As a guide he has an equally impressive resume having guided Everest, Cho Oyu, GII as well as many ascents on (to name a few) Aconcagua 22,843', Huayna Potosi 6080m, Illimani 6370m, Sajama 6580m, Illampu 6432m, Huascaran 6800m, Tocllaraju 6100m, Chimborazo 6300m, Cotopaxi 5980m and of course in his native country, the Mexican Volcanoes many times (more than 100 guided ascents).
Hector holds the speed record on the volcanoes having climbed all three: Popo 17,886', Izta 17,126' and Orizaba 18,405' in 17 hrs and 30 mins! He also holds the speed record on El Pico de Orizaba (2hrs 10 mins from the Piedra Grande hut to the summit, and this was after having biked from Tlachichuca at 8800' to the hut at 14,000' in 2 hrs and 20 mins) His list  of technical rock and ice is also world class with many  ascents in Yosemite, the Canadian Rockies and the Alps. Hector is certified  as a mountaineering instructor with the Spanish Mountaineering Federation and  has a Rescue course certification with the Spanish Mountain School."

We also have a south side variation (up & back), submitted by Sean O'Roarke: "Most gringos climb Orizaba from the north, via the Piedra Grande hut and small glacier. However, the south route is snow-free in the dry season, and the trailhead can be reached in a passenger car. From the two-wheel-drive parking lot at the saddle between Orizaba and Sierra Negra, the route climbs a vertical mile in about 3.75 miles to the summit. If you pick the right line, you can mostly avoid the loose volcanic sand on the ascent, and bomb down it on the descent, making for a fun, efficient day."

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