If you’re a beginner mountain climber and you decide you want to climb Orizaba, it’s not critical that you have mountain climbing skills. What’s important is that you have some glacier trekking and survival training skills which you’ll definitely need when you’re on the mountain. The mountain is not necessarily tricky but the sudden changes in climate and terrain may prove to be a challenge.
In any mountain climbing expedition, you’ll certainly need tools of the trade to be able to maneuver your way around the terrain and any obstacles you may encounter. When climbing Pico de Orizaba, climbers follow the “alpine style”, which basically means that climbers carry their own gear. There are no porters to follow you around to help you carry your stuff. So, prior to your trip, you need to make sure that you bring only the stuff that you need. Here is a list of the essential gear and equipment for your climb.
Headgear – One of the most basic pieces of gear that you need to bring is your lightweight, sturdy helmet. Technically, it doesn’t really help with the climb but it will protect you from falling rocks and ice which you may encounter depending on the route you’re taking and on the weather you’ll be experiencing. Your safety is always a concern and the helmet is your trustworthy assistant in protecting your fragile head.
Climbing Harness – Another essential piece of climbing gear is your climbing harness. You wear this tool around your waist and legs to give support and protection in combination with your climbing rope. Since there are many types of climbing harnesses for a variety of climbs, you need to choose a harness fit for alpine climbs. They are generally made of non-absorbent materials to withstand the rough climate associated with glacier and high altitude climbs. They are also adjustable and comfortable which is just perfect for long arduous climbs.
Ice Axe – As the name suggests, this axe is designed specifically mountaineers to use in snow and ice conditions. They usually aid climbers with the ascent (like a walking stick for uphill treks) and for descent (acts like an anchor to prevent you from sliding down a steep grade. You also need an ice axe that suits your height and strength. If you slip and fall, the ice axe is used to self-arrest.
Crampons – Crampons are the spikes that you attach to your boots to help you walk on snow and ice. With them you will have no fear of slipping across the terrain and you will even be able to climb frozen surfaces. You will need 12-point adjustable crampons designed for technical mountaineering. You may use either steel or aluminum (metal works best for icy conditions). It’s important that you bring the right crampons to suit the kind of boots that you’re wearing.
Trekking Poles – Trekking poles are basically hiking sticks. They usually resemble ski poles except that they’re collapsible and lightweight. You use trekking poles to support you while you’re walking and give you balance when navigating through uneven terrain.
Carabiners – One important gear for climbing Pico de Orizaba is the carabiner. You’ll need at least 1 locking and 1 non-locking carabiner to connect to your climbing system (with ropes and other gear). Carabiners are especially handy when securing your foothold on the mountain as well as helping with rescue systems.
Mountain climbing can be an extremely dangerous sport. It’s highly recommended that you hire a professional guide whenever climbing any mountain with extreme weather conditions, such as Pico de Orizaba.