Iztaccihuatl

Photo of Iztaccihuatl

Photo by Gordan Peaks

Details

Elevation (feet): 17,342
Elevation (meters): 5,286
Continent: North America
Country: Mexico
Range/Region: Cordillera Neovolcanica
Latitude: 19.1833
Longitude: -98.6333
Difficulty: Walk up
Best months for climbing: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Dec
Volcanic status: Extinct
Year first climbed: 1889
First successful climber(s): James de Salis (first recorded)
Nearest major airport: Mexico City, Mexico
Convenient Center: Amecameca, Mexico

Description

Iztaccihuatl, often more conveniently called Izta, is an extinct volcano, the third highest mountain in Mexico behind Pico de Orizaba and Popocatepetl. Izta and its active neighboring volcano Popo are situated about ten miles apart. Both mountains are fewer than fifty miles southeast of Mexico City.

The name Iztaccihuatl is Nahuatl (Aztec) for "White Woman", a name which has as its origins in an ancient legend in which Izta and Popo were once lovers, but were turned into mountains after displeasing the gods. Izta was turned into a mountain without life, and Popo was given eternal life, a curse of the highest magnitude in that forever he must gaze upon the extinct form of his beloved Izta. His anguish is to blame for the rumblings of the earth. In keeping with the legend, many locals recognize that the mountain's prominent features resemble the features of a woman sleeping on her back, particularly when seen from the west. There are mountain features which correspond to the hair, head, ear, neck, breast, belly, knees and feet, and when discussing the mountain, these anatomical terms are commonly used in reference to key landmarks and climbing routes. The standard route to the summit is known as "La Arista del Sol" ("The Ridge of the Sun") and climbs past the feet and up the knees across the stomach and onto the breasts. The ascent is not technical, but since the summit is over 17,000 feet, altitude is a consideration and climbers should take the time to acclimatize.

The first recorded summit ascent was by James de Salis in 1889, but archaeological evidence indicates the mountain was previously climbed by Aztec and earlier cultures.

Thanks to Terrill Thompson for contributing to this description. (View history)