Cordillera Neo-Volcánica

We spent two nights in Cholula, where we once again met nice fellow-travelers: Dominik and Omaira from Switzerland with their children Oriana and Damiana and also two older couples from Canada who are friends with one another. After a visit to the city of Puebla, which ended in rain, we continued on under a beaming sun the next day to get to the archeological site of Cholula, where several pyramids were built on top of one another until they made the biggest pyramid ever constructed. With time, it was covered with volcanic ash, so that it looks like one big hill. The colonial government had no better idea than to erect a church at the top. The ruins can be visited by means of a tunnel dug into the hill, and the climb up to the church is worthwhile because there is such a great view from there. We renewed our strength by eating a few grasshoppers, a specialty rich in protein which was especially fun for the children.

Puebla and Cholula:

The volcano Popocatepetl had greeted us with a few smoke signal in the morning, and we finally got very close to it in the evening when we spent the night on the 12,140 ft (3700m) high Paso de Cortés between Popo and Iztaccíhuatl. This was a record altitude for 80% of us (children, Bremach, and me), which luckily caused no problems for any of us. Popo has been increasingly active again and thus closed off for several years. We took a short hike up Izta, where we met a lot of Mexican weekend-mountaineers. On our highest family hike so far, we made it up to 13,780 ft (4280m), but then the children had no desire to move around much in the thin air, and the tenacious clouds didn’t motivate us to climb any higher.

Paso de Cortes:

Back in Cholula, we met Brigitte and Franz from Switzerland. The women found out quickly that their husbands had set their minds on the same mountain, so all of us were soon on the way to Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain. Our Bremach fought its way valiantly up along the poor track towards Refugio Fausto Gonzales Gomar, and we were amazed at how efficiently Franz and Brigitte’s Sprinter that does not have a 4-wheel drive followed us– until the soft volcanic ash finally demanded lower gears, 4-wheel drive, and the differential lock. Then, until nightfall, we were repeatedly busy pulling the Sprinter out of the dirt at an altitude of 14,108 ft (4300m) – an exciting experience for the young as well as the older ones. Thus, we set things up for the night a bit lower than expected, and, the next afternoon, Max and Franz set off on foot to the Refugio, the simple mountain hut at an altitude of 15,289 ft (4660m). The next morning, they were able to climb up to the peak, at an altitude of 18,406 ft (5610m), under perfect snow and ice conditions. Finally a new altitude record for Max! Only the cloud-covered view and an icy foehn storm put a little damper on the joy of reaching the summit, the highest point between Canada and Ecuador. Right on time for lunch, the two men were back with their families in the base camp. On that same day, we drove down from above 13,123 ft (4000m) to sea level and the city of Veracruz, our first time on the Caribbean coast during the trip. Our first impression: pretty thick, polluted air down here!

Pico de Orizaba:

Five weeks after having left the pacific coast we now are ready for some ocean time again. Thanks to the new mosquito net that we got from Brigitte and Franz our Bremach is ready for it, too.

Here you can find some private pictures taken during our time on and around the volcanoes.

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