Monday, October 20, 2008

Climbing Nevado De Toluca

Yesterday, also my birthday incidentally, I climbed the Nevado de Toluca with a few of the gang who will also be going up Izta with me. Plus my wife Paola, who decided to brave the elements this time, but who has no intention of trying to climb Izta! The Nevado de Toluca is no small mountain, but you do have the advantage of being able to drive half way up.But it's still a 4690 metre mountain, only 600 metres shorter than Izta itself.

Although in fairness, this isn't as much of a cheat as it sounds. You could easily walk up that first part - it's not challenging, just time consuming. What we did establish very quickly though, was that today was going to be a cold and very misty day! Sometimes, if it's clear you can get not only great views at the top, but see the lakes bathed in sunshine which gives then a very blue, surreal look. Not today though - that's the thing with climbing mountains.

Anyway, we parked up and began the hour/hour and a half long walk to the two crater lakes, which is a fairly leisurely hike along pathways, and is definitely not something anyone would struggle with. Families bring their kids along this part of the journey. We did have a bit of luck. Near the first lake, the Moon Lake, the heavy mist temporarily subsided and we got some nice photos of the valley below and the lake itself. But by the time we had gone around a largish hill to see the Sun Lake, the mist had returned.

Then for the hard part. Climbing to the summit. I have to say now, I have more respect for those guys who have climbed Everest and other monster peaks than ever before! It's hard work! It's probably only an hour long hike, or two hours for the less fit or energetic. But it's up steepish ground, on very unstable ground that continually changes from sandy to rocky. It's easy to slip, and impossible in places to keep a great pace.

There were six of us in all, and only four of us finally made it to the summit. Paola and one of the others (who may well change his mind about Izta!) stopped just 50 to 75 metres short of the summit, exhausted. It seems a shame that they got so close, but to be honest that final bit has the toughest climbing of all.

It's a good feeling to get to the top, which was just a very small piece of rock, and for me it has increased my enthusiasm to climb Izta! I couldn't see anything by fog from the summit, except at the edges, where rocks dropped down steeply....that gave the feeling of being at the peak more feeling though! Hopefully we will be luckier with the weather at Izta.

What have I learned from this trip? Plenty, but that's for another post! I will say that it was a valuable exercise though. I'm uploading photos as I speak so I shall be blogging those as well tonight or tomorrow! But here is just one that I've quickly uploaded...

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At the summit.

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