The Pico de Orizaba, or Citlaltépetl (from Nahuatl citlal(in) = star, and tepētl = mountain), is a stratovolcano, the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America. It rises 5,636 metres (18,491 ft) above sea level in the eastern end of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, on the border between the states of Veracruz and Puebla. The volcano is currently dormant but not extinct with the last eruption taking place during the 19th century. It is the second most prominent volcanic peak in the World after Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Pico overlooks the valley and city of Orizaba, from which it gets its name. The name Citlaltépetl is not used by Nahuatl speakers of the Orizaba area, who instead call it Istaktepetl (Iztactépetl in the traditional orthography for Classical Nahuatl) 'White Mountain'. The earliest mention of the volcano was referred to by the natives during the Pre-Columbian Era as Poyautécatl, which means "The ground that reaches the clouds".
Climbing and Recreation:
El Pico de Orizaba attracts large number of international climbers every year. There are many routes for approaching and climbing the volcano, and many people attempt it, mostly during the period from October to March. The most frequented route begins from the base camp Piedra Grande Hut via the Jamapa Glacier. Piedra Grande Hut Base Camp is located at an elevation of 4,270 m (14,010 ft) above sea level; it is a great place to stay or acclimatize to the high altitude.
Another option as a starting point is high camp located at the base of the glacier about 4,900 m (16,100 ft) above sea level. For a more technical challenge for the experienced climber, there is a technical ice climb called the Serpents Head which involves 10 pitches of grade 3 ice. Additionally, the southern side offers another challenging option; although the trail is shorter, it is steeper and more difficult. No glaciers are found on the southern side. The final ascent to the summit is via a normally straightforward and uncrevassed glacier route. The caldera can be circumnavigated with relative ease, although at one point this requires a short, exposed traverse of steep rock and ice above the Glacier Este.