Mexico Volcanoes Frequently Asked Questions
Training & Skill
What is the route like?
It has been said that these volcanoes are an ideal training ground for climbers who would like to get into high altitude mountaineering. The routes on these peaks are not particularly difficult technically but are very worthwhile ascents.
Both climbs involve extended cramponing on moderately steep slopes with hard snow conditions. Approximately 3,000 - 4,000 vertical feet of snow can be expected on each peak. Crevasse problems will be minor. Climbing Ixta or Orizaba can be compared to climbing Mt. Rainier from the 10,000 foot level up.
How should I train?
You cannot over train for high altitude climbing. Concentrate on your heart, legs and lungs. Climb or hike at any opportunity. You will enjoy the trip more if you are properly prepared. An aerobic program of either running, swimming or bicycling, plus a conditioning program for the thigh muscles is strongly recommended. Running stairs, weight training or similar programs are excellent. You owe it to your team mates to be in excellent condition for the trip.
What skills do I need?
Prior knowledge of ice axe arrest, cramponing and rope team travel are REQUIRED. Everyone needs to be familiar with these basic climbing skills.
Travel & Insurance
Is a visa required?
The procedure for entering Mexico is very simple. You MUST have a tourist card (obtainable from the airlines) and a passport. Upon arrival, you will be asked to show both your tourist card and passport so be sure to have both handy upon your arrival in Mexico. I also suggest you bring an extra copy of the front pages of your passport in case of loss, along with a couple of extra passport photos.
How do I get there?
Flights to Mexico City are easily booked from almost any area of the United States. Because of this, the group meets at the Marina Cristina Hotel in Mexico City. We encourage you to make your reservations early.
Try to arrive in Mexico City as early as possible on Saturday afternoon. That's Day 1 of the program. You will take a government regulated taxi from the airport to the hotel. The taxi ticket window is located just outside of customs at the Mexico City Airport. Remember, you are responsible for making all of your own flight arrangements.
After clearing customs and immigration at the Mexico City airport, simply hail one of the government run airport taxis to the hotel. The rate is set and there is no haggling over the price. Look for their window at the airport.
We meet at the Maria Cristina Hotel in Mexico City. The address is Rio Lerma #31 and the telephone number is: 5 566 9688. It is centrally located near the Zona Rosa in Mexico City. The people at the front desk of the hotel will have your names on a list. You will be paired with another member to share a double room. We will meet the group in the lobby on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. We'll then go out to dinner together and discuss the week's program. Your IMG leader will contact you later that evening if you arrive late and are unable to make the dinner meeting.
We will return to Mexico City on the following Saturday. Most people make their flight arrangements to depart Mexico City on Sunday morning. We will have rooms reserved for everyone at the Hotel Maria Christina for that final Saturday night.
What kind of insurance do I need?
We invest in insurance coverage for commercial liability and medical and disability insurance for our employees while participating on our programs. We cannot insure you for your personal needs, but we do expect you to be as fiscally responsible as we are. We require that you insure yourself against potentially expensive difficulties that may arise. First, Trip Cancellation Insurance may provide financial relief should you be forced to withdraw from the program before it even happens. Next, make sure you have adequate Travel Insurance for coverage should you have a problem during the trip. Medical care and evacuation in remote locations can be expensive. For more information, please see our page on Trip Cancellation and Travel Insurance.
We again remind you that no insurance of any kind is provided for trip participants.
Packing & Food
How should I pack?
Most of us will pack our gear in two duffle bags. We put our climbing pack in one of these bags. Most airlines limit checked luggage to two pieces each weighing no more than 50 lbs. Use zip ties to close the bags or purchase TSA approved locks. TSA approved locks really are a good idea; they are nice for your peace of mind and help to prevent pilfering. In addition to these two bags, we like to use a small backpack as our carry-on luggage. You then have this small backpack available for day hikes, shopping, etc.
We also would suggest that you purchase one of the many light money belts that are available or get one of the pouches that you can hang around your neck and place inside your shirt. This is a little safer way to carry your money and travel documents.
Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home. We would like everyone to have a wrist watch with an alarm along. They are quite handy. It's convenient to have a pen with you for filling in travel forms.
What kind of travel clothing should I bring?
Keep your clothing tasteful but casual. Shorts for men are typically frowned upon in town. Your extra city clothes can be left at the hotel in a duffel bag.
How much money should I bring?
Cash is usually easier to exchange. Since we aren't carrying very large amounts, most people prefer cash to traveler's checks. Carrying an assortment of smaller bills is usually helpful. Credit cards are accepted by larger Mexican businesses in the cities but are useless in small towns. Pesos can be purchased at the airport and in the hotel. Plan to take approximately $500.
What food should I bring?
You will be responsible for your own restaurant meals and any bottled drinks. There are a variety of good restaurants within a short distance of the hotels we use. We'll try to sample a few of them.
We'll take care of breakfasts and dinners while climbing, this includes hot drinks. This means that you need only to worry about your climbing lunches and snack foods. Figure on food/ snacks for four lunches. Candy, cheese, nuts, crackers and powdered drink mixes are items that people typically bring. You can always purchase some extras like fruit in Mexico. Bottled water is available everywhere. The bottom line is to bring snacks that you like to eat, not necessarily things that you think are good for you. See what IMG guides like to snack on in the mountains.
Medical & Miscellaneous
What medical issues should I consider?
While it's always nice to have a doctor as a participant on our trips, we cannot guarantee one's presence and you should be aware of this. We do ask that you carefully fill out the Medical Information form that is part of the sign-up packet which you completed as part of the registration procedure. We need to be informed of any allergies you may have, medications you are currently taking and any medical conditions which could possibly affect your ability to safely participate on a climbing expedition.
In addition to the first aid items listed on the equipment list, there are a few additional required medications. These should be discussed with your personal physician and will require a prescription. We want everyone to bring a course of the prescription antibiotic azithromycin. Along with azithromycin, you will want to obtain high altitude emergency drugs including Acetazolamide, Dexamethasone and Nifedpipine.
You should also bring some Imodium for treatment of traveler's diarrhea. Please consider all of these medications as part of your REQUIRED equipment list. Any medication should be used only if necessary and use should be discussed thoroughly with your physician and with your guide before you take the medication.
Water purification is also very important. An efficient and effective method is the use of iodine crystals. These are available commercially at mountaineering stores as a product called 'Polar Pure'. Iodine tablets, such as 'Potable Agua' are also available and work well. Filters, such as the ones made by MSR, are also good. Either can be used or both can be used in combination. Bottled water is also readily available.
We also recommend that each participant brings a small bottle of hand disinfectant such as Purell. Anything that we can do to stay healthy is worthwhile.
Health issues will be discussed during the expedition and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions before or during the trip.
What immunizations will I need?
No immunizations are currently required to enter Mexico. It is recommended that you consider the following:
- Tetanus/Diphtheria: There is no natural immunity to the tetanus toxin and since it is found throughout the world, immunization is a universal recommendation regardless of age. A combined tetanus/ diphtheria booster is available, good for ten years.
- Hepatitis Vaccine: New vaccines are available for both hepatitis A and B.
Please consult your physician or local health department for their recommendations.
You should also ask your physician for a prescription for a course of the antibiotic azithromycin ("Z-Pak"). Please consider this to be part of your required equipment.
We recommend that you visit the travel clinic at a major University Hospital or your local Public Health Department for the most up to date info on travel requirements, or check the Center for Disease Control Website at www.cdc.gov.
What is the weather usually like?
There is no way to predict what the exact weather will be like during our ascents. Temperatures should be comparable to those experienced on Mt. Rainier during the summer climbing season. Precipitation is usually minimal.
In Mexico City and the surrounding countryside, temperatures will range from a balmy 60 - 80? F in the day to cool evenings requiring a sweater or light jacket.
What's included in the expedition fee?
Costs Included in Trip Fee:
- Guide fees
- Double accommodations in hotels
- Shared accommodations in huts
- Group transportation
- Group equipment including stoves and fuel, ropes, cooking gear, group first aid kit, technical climbing equipment, radios, etc...
- Meals while climbing except for lunches/snacks
Costs Not Included in Trip Fee:
- International airfare including airport taxes
- Hotel transfers
- Meals while not climbing
- Personal clothing and equipment on the trip gear list
- Lunch/snack foods
- REQUIRED Insurance: IMG requires that all international trip participants purchase Travel Insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation, repatriation and medical expenses for the duration of their IMG program. Trip Cancellation Insurance is strongly recommended. Trekking and mountaineering programs are true "adventure travel."
- Guide gratuities