Why would you climb a mountain? 
“Because it’s there.”

…This was the famous response of one of the first mountaineers to attempt Mount Everest, George Mallory. Although I love that response, I’ll give you a more reasonable answer and explain the best ways to get prepared for climbing your first mountain in Mexico.

Climbing a mountain brings multiple benefits;

Health benefits – it improves physical condition, it is good strength exercise for different muscle groups, improves blood flow, reduces cholesterol and it even generates endorphins.

Mental benefits – it lowers stress, clears your mind and helps creativity.

But climbing a mountain goes far beyond physical/mental benefits, it is a personal challenge and reaching a peak is an experience that you will never forget.

Climbing my first Mexican mountain

The mountains in Mexico.

In Mexico we have medium and high mountains, which almost all are volcanoes, these are the ones we are going to talk about. The majority of mountains on earth are usually between 13,000 and 16,000 feet above sea level. Anything above above 16,000’ is considered a “high” mountain. Mexico’s highest is Pico de Orizaba with a height of 18,491ft. Famous twenty-seven thousand footers you’ll see in movies are usually ascended with oxygen tanks and are mainly found in the Himalayas.

Here is a list of the 5 most famous mountains in Mexico.

1. Pico de Orizaba.

  • Height: 18,491 feet feet above sea level.
  • Routes: You can ascend Pico by its northern route by its permanent glacier called Jamapa or by the South route, which has no glacier.
  • Seasons: The best are from the end of October to March, it is not recommended during rainy weather due to storms and strong winds.

2. Popocatépetl.

  • Height: 17,800 feet above sea level.
  • Routes: You can not ascend because it is an active volcano.
  • Seasons: Not applicable.

3. Iztaccíhuatl.

  • Height: 17,343 feet above sea level.
  • Routes: You can ascend by the feet or by Ayoloco.
  • Seasons: The best are from the end of October to March, it is not recommended during rainy weather due to storms and strong winds.

4. Nevado de Toluca.

  • Height: 15,350 feet above sea level.
  • Routes: The most common is the Pico del Fraile.
  • Seasons: All year round it is possible to ascend, during rainy weather it is necessary to go well prepared, and during snowfall to bring technical equipment.

5. Nevado de Colima

  • Height: 14,010 feet above sea level.
  • Routes: The “J” route or the Colimotes.
  • Seasons: All year round it is possible to ascend, during rainy weather it is necessary to go well prepared, and during snowfall to bring technical equipment.

Which are the mountains that we recommend for your first ascent?

If the idea of ​​climbing a mountain seems intimidating. Do not worry, even the most experienced climbers have seen the face of intimidation. Worth noting, that the ascent of your first mountain can go two ways, it can be very satisfying or leave you hating your experience. This outcome depends on how prepared you are, and the people that accompany you.

A qualified guide that has experience teaching beginners, will truly make your first ascent much more enjoyable and successful. It is not necessary that you have previous experience. However, you should do some training to get yourself in good physical condition, and it is a necessity to dress appropriately.

Mexico Mountains for beginners:

Nevado de Colima

If you are closer to Guadalajara than Mexico City, this is the one we recommend. Colima is located in the southern part of Jalisco. In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful and accessible. It is surrounded by a mesophilic forest and at its summit it seems like you are on another planet.

The ascent is made from a place a little above the camping area called La Joya, this place is already ¾ of height of the mountain, about 10,000 feet above sea level. You can also start hiking from the base, however, we do not recommend it to be your first mountain experience. Believe me, you need your energy towards the summit.

Depending on your pace it will take about 3 hours to get to the top. Going down is much faster, especially because in sections you can go running and jumping through sand  (One of my favorite parts).

Nevado de Toulca

This mountain is very close to Mexico City. Located between the valleys of Toluca and Tenango. It is located 13 miles southwest of Toluca, State of Mexico.

The ascent starts from the base of the volcano crater, where the lakes of the Sun and the Moon are located. The landscapes here are incredible. If it has snowed, technical equipment is used such as spikes, crampons, and ropes as well.

The uphill depends on your pace but should take 3-4 hours. The descent is much faster, because the effort is less.

Physical Condition: How good of shape do I need to be in?

This is one of the most common questions asked by someone who is going to ascend their first mountain in Mexico. It is also one of the most difficult things to answer, this because each body, genetics and attributes are different.

I have seen people who do not exercise regularly climb to the top as if it was nothing, and others in very good physical condition who have to stop numerous times because they feel exhausted.

In high mountains there is smaller amount of oxygen molecules that are in the air, which is why it is more difficult to recover. This is what causes the dreaded, altitude sickness.

However, to improve your chances of reaching the summit and enjoy the trail along the way you should arrive physically prepared.

Physical Fitness Checklist:

Use these points as a guide to decide if you are ready for your first trek.

  • Can jog 4 miles without stopping.
  • Do cardio exercise at least 3 times a week for more than 30 minutes.
  • Have been hiking on irregular terrain for more than 5 hours and you felt good.

Do not worry, if you do not meet all of these requirements. Set a goal for yourself and accept your personal challenge! I assure you that you will be happy you achieved your goal when you are on top of that mountain.

If you want a training guide, you can download it here. For beginners it is not necessary that you comply with all. However, you should not go unprepared.

Clothing & Equipment:

Besides preparing your body physically, another basic element in any outing is to wear the right clothes. This will help you enjoy your experience, and regulate your body temperature.

To enjoy trekking the mountains in Mexico to the fullest extent, you must have the right gear. All of our expert guides agree on using the layered clothing system to regulate your temperature by peeling off layers depending on the weather conditions.

Once you understand how dressing in layers works, your next step is to get a basic understanding of the equipment. A professional guide will provide educational information on the technical equipment such as a helmet, first aid kit, trekking poles, etc.

There are many options and many benefits of climbing a mountain in Mexico. With a basic understanding of the 5 most popular mountains in Mexico, as well as what equipment and training is needed to get started, you are well on your way to your first ascent. This article was meant to be a starting point and should have inspired you to learn more about mountaineering. See you on the mountain!

If you want to know more information, we will advise you personally or book your first ascent to a mountain in Mexico. Leave us your information here and we will contact you.

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An avid adventure lover that has been in awe of nature since he was a kid. He has 15+ years of experience in the outdoor adventure arena. His favorite pastimes include; mountain climbing, trail running, kitesurfing. This passion for adventure has lead to the creation of LocalAdventures. Daniel’s mission is to share these amazing experiences with the world.

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