Joneses in Mexico--December 31, 1995-January 13, 1996--no diplomatic incidents!

Peter and I went to Mexico to climb the volcanos. He had planned the trip from the early fall and bought a ticket. About Thanksgiving time I decided that he shouldn't go alone--that I should accompany him. So at the first of December I bought a ticket--$50 less than his. So much for advanced purchase!

We left on December 30th and got to Mexico City at 3am on the 31st. It was cold and everything was wet. The water was off at the airport. What we didn't know until later was the day before had been a "storm of 25 years" that had flooded parts of town and had brought snow down to the mountains around the city.

At about 6am we went to TIPO, the eastern bus station and got a bus to Amecameca--the town below the two volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihautl. We got there to see a beautiful day with the snow on the two mtns WAY DOWN INTO THE TREES--maybe 9,000'! As we quickly discovered, the road up into the saddle, Paseo de Cortes, was closed. The next two days we explored this, taking a collectivo up to San Pedro, where half of Mexico city (half each day) was trying to drive up to see and play in the snow. Normally they can see snow high on the volcanoes but can't drive to it. Since it was a national holiday, everyone was out and the traffic was incredible. Their goal was to put as big a pile of snow on the hood or top of car as possible and drive back to the city.

After deciding that it would be several days before the road opened--snow plows are unknown and it would depend on the sun and warming temperatures--we decided to head east to Puebla and check out Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest, which is about 60+ miles east towards Veracruz. So back to TIPO and then to Puebla where we found slightly warmer temperatures.

The next day we decided to head to Tlachichuca, the jump-off village, assuming we would be able to get to the mtn. So we stored our "town" gear and left on the bus with our backpacks loaded. In Tlachichuca, we found the operation of Sr Reyes (we knew about from a book) and learned that they were again taking people high on the mtn. They couldn't drive all the way to the huts at 13,900', but were getting close enough to walk. So the next morning we rode up to the end of where they could drive and hiked to the huts. We sat in the beautiful sunshine against the S wall of the large hut all afternoon.

The plan was to get up at midnight and leave at 1am-- climbing under the full moon. Our sleep was prohibited by a hut-mate who was sick with some lung infection and coughed and kept us up all evening. We were glad to get up and out at 1am!

The first 2,000' are up a steep gully--this is a volcano-- and we did that in 3 hours, getting to the base of the glacier at 4am. I was feeling sick at this point--probably not altitude but some combination of food/no sleep/lack of strength. So I headed back down and Peter headed up. There were about a dozen others climbing at the same time, so he wasn't alone-- except that he blew them away. He was on top (18,700'--third highest peak in N America) at 6:30 and back at the hut at 8 am! Most of the others summited at 11:00am to noon.

We rode back down to Tlachichuca that afternoon and enjoyed a hot shower and large dinner! Then back the next day to Puebla where we stayed a couple of nights. Then back to TIPO and a bus trip back to Amecameca, where we checked and found the road OPEN!

The next morning we hired a taxi to take us up to Paseo de Cortes (and higher, depending on the snow) and we were off. The road was open about 2/3s from Paseo to the end at 13,000 and there were others there going up and coming down. We made arrangements for the taxi to come at 3pm the next day and were off--up to the lowest hut at 15,500'. That took about 5 hours of hard work! The sky was clear and the sun was warm, though to the west was all of Mexico City's smog. We went to bed at dark and got up at 2:20am. At 3 am we were off--up a steep 3rd-class section to the highest hut (ruined) at 16,400. From there it is up and down over false summits and over a large snowfield. We made it to the real summit exactly at 7am when the sun was coming up out of the cloud layer (and smog layer) to the east over Puebla. Immediately it started warming up and we had a beautiful, sunny decent to the hut, then to the base, where our taxi showed up over a half hour early! Mexico?

We headed back to the hotel in Amecameca for a cold drink, a shower and dinner--and packed all our dirty polypro stuff away in the bottom of our duffels!

The next morning we went to Mexico City, checked about Peter's ticket change and toured the downtown and the anthropological museum in Chapultapec Park. Then at dark to the airport to wait for our 3am flight. It was a very great relief to have TWA open their counter at midnight and an even bigger one to get on the plane at about 2:30.

A couple of hours in St Louis and at 10:30 we landed back in Denver. Home always looks good after a trip!