About 4 hours east of Mexico City lies La Malinche, the 5th largest mountain in Mexico at 14,636 feet and a couple of hundred feet taller than any peak in the lower U.S. The mountain is named after Malinche, the native Mexican concubine/advisor that helped Cortez conquer the Aztec nation in 1519. For those attempting to climb the big Mexican volcanoes, Malinche is the 2nd acclimatization step in a process that ends with with the highest of the peaks, Orizaba at over 18,000 feet above sea level. After climbing Ajusco (13,300′) a couple of times we decided to drive to Puebla and give Malinche a try.
The area around the mountain is a beautiful national park. We drove to the “Centro Vocacional”, a campground at the end of the park road and parked our car around 4pm last Friday. We then grabbed our packs and hiked a bit over a mile up a closed road arriving at a campsite near the trailhead just before dark. After the tent was up and sleeping bags ready, Claudia heated water and we had a nice cup of hot coffee, watched the stars and reminisced about old times camping in the Northwest.
The climb started at 7:15 the next day after packing and stashing all the camping gear in the woods. From start to finish, the climb ascends 4500 feet in 4 miles – a grueling walk at breath defying high altitude.
We plan to continue to climb and increase our altitude tolerance. Hopefully we’ll summit Itza and Orizaba, the 3rd highest and highest Mexican mountains respectively, sometime next year. Popo, the 2nd highest, is off limits due to the fact that its volcanic summit is currently active and belching hot steam and ash on a daily basis.