Our Travel to Iztaccihuatl and the Altzomoni Hut

After breakfast at the resort on the morning of day 3, we loaded back up into the bus and headed to our first mountain, Iztaccihuatl.  The best I could come up with on a pronunciation for this mountain was “Ixta-zoo-watt-all”.  I’m not 100% that is correct, but I think it’s pretty close.  Most people just simply call it Ixta.

On the drive to the mountain, we made a pit stop at a new coffee shop that has been popping up in Mexico called The Italian Coffee Company.  This is a very nice little coffee shop that was everywhere.  In fact, there were four of them in the square in Peubla.  And, like the one shown here, they are all along the freeways too.  They are nice places to stop, stretch legs and use the bathrooms.

Upon arriving at the Iztaccihuatl-Popocatepetl National Park, we hung out for bit at the Paso de Cortes and took in some views of both mountains from the parking lot.  In the center of the lot was a statue to Cortes marking this pass.

After our little leg stretch and photo opportunity, we loaded back up in the bus and moved up the road towards our home for the night, the Altzomoni Hut (13,256 feet).  Prior to arriving at the hut we left the bus at a dirt road intersection and met up with two of our local guides who would be helping out on both Izta and Orizba, Fernando and Diego.  We also met some of the rest of the local ground support crew who would be taking care of our bags that we leave behind while on the mountain.  We unloaded our bags from the bus, loaded them into Fernando’s vehicle and then walked up the last part of the road to the hut.

The Altzomoni Hut is part of a complex on top of hill overlooking Ixta that operates as a television station.  In the complex is a small hut with three rooms and two bathrooms that climbers use as a staging point for their climb of Ixta.

It’s not a bad place.  There is no heat, but being inside is warm enough.  There is electricity.  Although there are two bathrooms, there is no running water.  The bathroom operates using three 55-gallon water barrels and a 5-gallon bucket.  You scoop out some water from the 55-gallon barrel with the small bucket and when you’re done with your deed, you pour it into the toilet and that flushes the toilet.  Pretty simple.

The rooms sleep ten pretty comfortably.  We split our group in two and had plenty of room to spread out our gear and get ready for the next couple of days. This first photo is taken from the intersection where we unloaded the bus.  It is looking back up at the TV complex with Popo in the background.  It gives you an idea of how large the TV complex is.

Here is Jake introducing the local guides and ground support crew.  From right to left, Fernando, Jake, Diego and for the life of me, I can not remember the last guys name.  I only heard it twice during the trip.  He’s not a guide, but he’s was instrumental in keeping track of our bags while we were on the mountain and keeping them safe.  He also did a lot of work getting dinners ready and keeping our food stuffs in stock.  Geoff is just off the photo to the left in the black jacket.

This is a good photo of the TV complex as we approached the hut.  Geoff is the guy right in front of the camera with the orange pack.  The building that is the hut is the red brick building with white trim and three windows right at the bottom of the complex and directly to the left of Geoff’s head.

We arrived pretty early in the afternoon and had some time to kill around the hut.  So we just hung out and checked out the view.  It was a pretty spectacular view at that.  With Ixta off one side of the deck and Popo off the other side of the deck.  Right to left, Demetria, Lance, Martin and Jake.

While we were hanging out and relaxing, Jake, Geoff and Fernando were discussing routes on Ixta.  There are two routes on the mountain (maybe more, but two they were discussing) to determine which would be the best for us to take tomorrow.  We began to notice a new friend at the hut as well.  A small, stray black dog that was living up here.  We assumed he was a stray anyway.  There were vehicles at the TV complex but we never saw anyone else around and never saw anyone take care of the dog.  You’ll see more of this dog in the coming posts.  He was quite remarkable in fact.

Jake and Geoff spent some time with all of us going over our gear, what to pack, what to wear the next day and how to set up the tents.  This was a good refresher.  The tents were the same Shelley and I had been using with Alpine Ascents so this was a good refresher as well.  After the gear checks and tent instructions we worked on our own gear and had dinner.  I don’t know what time we went to bed, but it was around sunset or just after.

Our little stray friend was a bit of a nuisance this night.  I don’t know what he was barking at, but he barked quite a bit at times during the night.  Maybe coyotes?  I don’t know.  Whatever it was, he had to go after them right outside the hut.  None of us were feeding him, that I’m aware of, but he hung out all night around us just the same.  My guess is lots of people feed him scrapes as he certainly didn’t look skinny or about to die.

We slept pretty good here other than the barking.  We would be getting up early the next day, eat breakfast and then move up to high camp on Ixta in preparations for our summit bid.


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