Iztaccihuatl is our first principal objective. It is a volcano that lies about 40 miles south east of Mexico City and rises to 5,230m (17,160ft). Fortunately it is dormant now.
It is the third highest peak in Mexico. Iztaccihuatl means “white woman” in the native language. White is from the snow which cap the summits all year round. The woman bit comes from the fact that when viewed from the east or the west the mountain resembles a recumbent female with head, chest, knees and feet comprising the various summits. The chest is the principal summit.
The normal route to the principal involves crossing her feet and knees. It is quite a high level route involving lots of ups and downs.
The mythology surrounding this mountain is that Iztaccihuatl was a princess who fell in love with one of her father’s warriors. Her father’s lands were under threat militarily so he promised the warrior, Popacatapetl, his daughter’s hand in marriage were Popacatapetl to return successfully from the battlefield. Off Popocatapetl went. But during his absence a love rival, Tlaxcala,told Iztaccihuatl that Popocatapetl had died in battle, so she herself dies from grief. But Popocatapetl did the necessary and returned victorious only to find on his return that his only true love was no more.
So he took her body to where the mountain now lies and piled ten hills together to form a tomb and laid her on top. Forever thereafter he knelt by her with a smoking torch in hand to watch over her. Popocatapetl is Mexico’s second highest mountain. From within its bowels the fire of his eternal love is preserved. Even today, Popocatapetl is still active and ascents of it are prohibited.
And as for the wicked Tlaxcala? Overcome with remorse, he went off to die in his lands. He also became a mountain – Pico de Orizaba. So now, from afar, he watches the two eternal lovers. More on Pico de Orizaba will follow.