How to Conquer Pico de Orizaba and Impress Your Friends

Discover the majesty of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest mountain and an active volcano. Standing at 18,491 feet, it's a popular destination for mountaineers, hikers, skiers, and nature enthusiasts.

How to Conquer Pico de Orizaba and Impress Your Friends
Lush tropical forests give way to alpine meadows and barren rocky terrain on the slopes of Pico de Orizaba. Images by Conanp

Pico de Orizaba, also known as Citlaltépetl in Nahuatl, is an active volcano located in the eastern region of Mexico. It is the third-highest peak in North America, and the highest mountain in Mexico, reaching a height of 5,636 meters (18,491 feet) above sea level. It is located between the states of Veracruz and Puebla and is one of the most popular and frequently climbed mountains in Mexico.

Formation of Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba is a stratovolcano, which means it is made up of layers of lava, pumice, and ash that have accumulated over thousands of years. The volcano was formed as a result of the subduction of the Cocos Plate underneath the North American Plate. The intense heat and pressure caused by the collision of these two tectonic plates led to the formation of the volcano.

Climbing Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba is a popular destination for mountaineers from all over the world. The mountain has several routes to the summit, ranging from relatively easy to extremely challenging. The most popular routes are the Jamapa Glacier and the Serdán Route. The Jamapa Glacier is the most common route, and it usually takes two to three days to climb. The Serdán Route is less crowded, and it is known for its beautiful scenery, but it is also more challenging.

When to Climb Pico de Orizaba

The best time to climb Pico de Orizaba is from November to March when the weather is dry and stable. During this time, the mountain is usually covered in snow, and the temperatures can drop below freezing at night. It is essential to be well-prepared for the climb, as the altitude can cause altitude sickness, and the weather can be unpredictable.

There are a number of different routes to the summit, and the best route for you will depend on your experience and fitness level. The most popular route is the Sendero de Guadalupe, which is a three-day hike that starts in the town of Tlachichuca.

If you are not experienced in mountaineering, it is advisable to hire a guide. There are a number of different guides available, and they can help you plan your trip and ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Awe-inspiring views from the summit of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest mountain.
Awe-inspiring views from the summit of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest mountain.

Interesting Facts About Pico de Orizaba

  • Pico de Orizaba is an active volcano and has erupted several times in the past.
  • The volcano is home to several endemic plant and animal species, including the Orizaba Pine and the Orizaba Salamander.
  • Pico de Orizaba is a sacred site for the Nahua people who believe that the mountain is the dwelling place of their gods.
  • In 1961, the Mexican government declared Pico de Orizaba a National Park to protect its natural beauty and biodiversity.


Pico de Orizaba is not only a beautiful mountain but also a symbol of Mexico's rich cultural and geological heritage. Climbing this majestic volcano is an unforgettable experience that requires proper planning, equipment, and physical fitness. Whether you are an experienced mountaineer or a beginner, Pico de Orizaba offers a challenging and rewarding adventure that you will never forget.