Year: 2013

Elbrus Race 2013 Itinerary: Food and Transportation

Todd and I will be following this itinerary, as posted on the ElbrusRace.com website:

15.09.2013 1 Flight arrival to Min Vody. Transfer to Baksan Valley Hotel Elba HB __D
16.09.2013 2 Acclimatization walking nearby. Hotel Elba HB B_D
17.09.2013 3 Transfer to Azau lift station. The opening of the competition. Going up to refuge “Barrels” ~3710m refuge “Barrels” BLD
18.09.2013 4 Qualifying speed climb from Barrels hut to the Pastukov rocks, 4800 m. refuge “Barrels” BLD
19.09.2013 5 Relax day. refuge “Barrels” BLD
20.09.2013 6 Speed Climb of Mt. Elbrus West 5642 m. Descent from Barrels to the Valley Hotel Elba HB BLD
21.09.2013 7 spare day for the Race or Awards Ceremony & farewell party at the evening Hotel Elba HB B__
22.09.2013 8 Transfer to airport. Flight from Min Vody. B__
Mir Station with Elbrus in the background
Mir Station with Elbrus in the background

Transportation Days:

Sunday, September 15, we’ll be flying in to Mineralnye Vody (MRV). This airport normally doesn’t have any way to eat or drink in arrivals, but they do generally feed the passengers well enough on the flight there from Moscow. The van driver will pick us up and drive the 3-4 hours to the hotel just outside Cheget, a village near the base of Elbrus. On that drive it’s possible to stop at a quick mart and get water or snacks.

Monday, September 16 we’ll take a taxi or car provided by the hotel to the lifts in Azau and ride up to the Barrels and walk around a little to check out the snow at the foot of the glacier and get some air at 12,000′ into our lungs. I probably won’t walk up very high, and it will be slow so that I don’t get any residual training effect. We’ll ride the lifts down and then take a car to the hotel.

Tuesday, September 17 we’ll all be taken by van to the tram station in Azau with all our bags for the huts. We’ll have the opening ceremony then take the tram up to the Barrels where we’ll set up camp for the duration. The organizers claim that the tram operators will waive ticket fees for the event participants, but I don’t know that this has ever been true. We’ll have to be prepared for that.

Wednesday, September 18 is the Qualifier. We “run” from the Barrels to Pastukhova Rocks at about 15,300′ with a two hour cutoff. Then we have a quite liberal cutoff for the trip back to the Barrels. Like four hours. On this day I had considered returning to Cheget in the evening to spend the night low, but that will depend on how I am processing oxygen and recovery.

Thursday, September 19. Assuming I go to Cheget I’ll have to make my way back up to the Barrels. Otherwise we hang out in the sun and relax. Absorb food and energy. Dry our clothing. Charge our electronics.

Friday, September 20. If the weather is good and all is well, we “run” for the summit of Elbrus, at over 18,500′. We have a five hour cutoff for the 6,500′ climb to the top. And a four hour cutoff for the trip back down to the Barrels. If all goes well, we will then return to the base, and get a van to the hotel. Otherwise we stay another night in the Barrels.

Saturday, September 21. If the weather was not very good, we give the summit a shot on this day. Otherwise we’ll be in Cheget just hanging out. The award ceremony and dinner will be that night, and we’ll be taking a van to that. If we are hanging out in Cheget, it’s a short drive or long walk from the hotel so we can go visit the market and grills.

Sunday, September 22. We wake up early and will be taken by car or van to the airport in Mineralnye Vody. The departures section of the airport is a bit more modern, and will have a small area to eat and drink in it. We then fly to Moscow to end our trip.

Eating Days:

Sunday we’ll be getting a dinner at the hotel in Cheget. On Monday we’ll be getting a breakfast and dinner. We’ll be on our own for lunch. We might be able to get a box lunch from the cook. If the weather and tourism is good there are grills up at Mir, the top tram station. Otherwise there will be grills in Azau and Cheget. Worst case we’re on our own and have shakes and bars for lunch.

Tuesday through Friday we’re on the schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some in the hotel, some in the Barrels Kitchen.

Saturday we have only breakfast, either at the hotel or the Barrels. Lunch will be on our own, unless we’re stuck at the Barrels doing the Race on Saturday. Last time this happened they did feed us, though it was meager. Then we have the Celebration Dinner on Saturday night, included in the Race entry fee.

Sunday we have breakfast early in the hotel, then it’s off to the airport.

Next:

In the next article I’ll look at this itinerary in regards to clothing and gear. Check back soon.

Elbrus Race 2013 Weather on the Way

We’ll be arriving in Moscow on September 15, 2013. From there we fly to Mineralnye Vody where we will be picked up at the airport and taken to our hotel just outside Cheget, just down the road from Azau, where the tram and gondola go to the Barrels Huts on Elbrus. I checked the weather along the way for Moscow, Mineralnye Vody (just say Mineral Vody) and Cheget for Sunday, so I can plan my travel wardrobe.

Weather for Moscow on September 15 2013 on the way to Elbrus Race 2013
Weather for Moscow on September 15 2013 on the way to Elbrus Race 2013
Weather for Mineralnye Vody on September 15 2013 on the way to Elbrus Race 2013
Weather for Mineralnye Vody on September 15 2013 on the way to Elbrus Race 2013
Weather for Cheget on September 15 2013 on the way to Elbrus Race 2013
Weather for Cheget on September 15 2013 on the way to Elbrus Race 2013

The site I normally go to for a mountain-top forecast “Mountain-Forecast.com” only goes out six days now (you could sometimes get a 9-day) so it’s not terribly helpful, but here are the links, if you’re curious:

Mountain Forecast for Elbrus

Elbrus Summit: [FORECAST]
Elbrus Barrels: [FORECAST]
Elbrus Base: [FORECAST]

Screenshots of current forecast through September 11 2013

Elbrus Summit Forecast through September 11 2013 (leading up to Elbrus Race 2013)
Elbrus Summit Forecast through September 11 2013 (leading up to Elbrus Race 2013)
Elbrus Barrels Forecast through September 11 2013 (leading up to Elbrus Race 2013)
Elbrus Barrels Forecast through September 11 2013 (leading up to Elbrus Race 2013)
Elbrus Valley Forecast through September 11 2013 (leading up to Elbrus Race 2013)
Elbrus Valley Forecast through September 11 2013 (leading up to Elbrus Race 2013)

I’ll be watching the weather carefully, especially for the summit. Doing this race with 80 MPH + winds will not be a lot of fun. Normally “running” up a mountain like this you dress as lightly as possible. Trail running shoes, softshell tights, softshell hoodies. This could be interesting…

Battery Pack for Charging a Phone

One thing I rely on for my expeditions is a battery pack for charging my phone. My model of choice at the moment is a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Battery Pack. It’s got plenty of juice for charging my phone a few times. It’s light and compact too.

Charging the Goal Zero battery pack
Charging the Goal Zero battery pack

On my recent trip to Alpamayo I took my Guide 10 battery pack and my Nomad 7 solar charger. About half of the days were sunny so I didn’t really have to worry about keeping the battery pack juiced up. Another climber on the trip brought his along too, for his phone. Sometimes on these trips I’m the only one with Goal Zero gear, so I’m the one that ends up charging everyone else’s toys. He was using his phone primarily as a camera. I used mine for music as well.

Guide 10 Battery Pack

With the battery pack to store the solar energy from the panels, it’s easy to charge your gear at night when you’re not using it. In fact, one trick is to keep it in your sleeping bag with you. I think the warmer temps inside the bag improve charging efficiency.

Charging droid with the Guide 10 battery pack
Charging droid with the Guide 10 battery pack

I’ve experimented a bit with the Guide 10 over the years. I’ve replaced the batteries with AAA using the handy adapter. This is great for keeping headlamp batteries charged, though I think the new USB charging headlamps might be a better more efficient option for charging with the battery pack. I’ve also experimented with different types and capacities of AA batteries. I keep three cables in an Eagle Creek zipper storage bag with the Guide 10 battery pack. The three I use most on an expedition:

  1. Micro USB
  2. Sony Camera Cable
  3. Mini USB

Those three cables serve my needs and weigh very little. In the zipper bag, about the size of a grade school pencil pouch, they take up no room and are easy to manage. Over the years I’ve learned quite a bit about organizing my pack and making it easy to do stuff, even in the dark.

Battery Pack and USB Charging Cables in zipper pouch
Battery Pack and USB Charging Cables in zipper pouch

I actually carry this battery pack zippered case in my carry-on bag when flying and use it to charge my phone for long flights when there isn’t a USB socket in the in-flight entertainment console. I fly economy. If you have any other suggestions or tips, please, go to my Facebook Page and share some pics and tips there, or comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Disclaimer: I am a Goal Zero Athlete and am provided equipment to test

Elbrus Race Tourist Itinerary 2013

Recently in my Facebook Page I commented that it would be fun to see if anyone wanted to climb Elbrus, one of the Seven Summits, during the Race this year. I am in the process of ironing out the details with my Russian Guide friend, but I have been able to get a prospective itinerary.

Elbrus Race 2010 - racers at about 14,300' above the Barrels hut
Elbrus Race 2010 – racers at about 14,300′ above the Barrels hut

VIII International Elbrus Race 2013 Tourist Program :

Date Days Day’s program
15.09.2013 day 01 Flight arrival to Min Vody. Transfer to Baksan Valley. Accommodation in the Hotel.
16.09.2013 day 02 Acclimatization Hike TBD. Accommodation in the Hotel.
17.09.2013 day 03 Transfer to Azau lift station. The opening of the competition. Going up to refuge “Barrels” ~3710m. Night at refuge “Barrels”
18.09.2013 day04 Early morning acclimatization hike to the Pastukova rocks, 4800 m. Racers arrive about 12:30 PM
19.09.2013 day 05 Relax day. Night at the refuge “Barrels” (full moon at 15:00 pm)
20.09.2013 day 06 2:00 AM Alpine start – begin climb of Mt. Elbrus 5642 m. Racers arrive about 10:00 AM
21.09.2013 day 07 Spare day for weather, summit climb, or Race or Awards Ceremony at the morning & The farewell party at the evening
22.09.2013 day 08 Transfer to airport. Flight from Min Vody.

As a disclaimer, I’d like to point out that this is a traditional itinerary for climbing the mountain, and while it is concurrent with the race, is not participating in the race. People who are qualified and interested in the race should contact me privately for instruction and advice.

Additionally, this is a rough itinerary based on current discussions with the Russian Logistics company, and is subject to availability of rooms, transportation, and Russian Guides during the event. My most recent communication suggests that we might extend it out to 9 days, September 23, and do the P-Rock hike on September 19, and the Summit on September 21 or 22. Because my contact is a working guide, and Russia is 12 hours time difference from me, there is a communication gap.

Prices and exact dates and times will be posted in the near future. Thanks for your patience.

Update 10 July 2013:

My Russian associate has responded with an 8-day and 11-day itinerary for this trip. The rates will be in the 600-700 Euro range assuming 2-4 participants. It would be a bit different for either more or less climbers. This price does not include the cost of snowcats, guides, and a few meals on the “on your own” acclimatization days. I will get more details when I return from Alpamayo.

Crevasses on Elbrus

Crevasses on Elbrus are rare on the normal route. If you wander below the Saddle it is much worse. This is easy to do on the descent if there is poor visibility due to weather. This has happened quite a few times in the last few years. I was there last September, as recorded in my book “Elbrus, My Waterloo” [CLICK HERE]. Quoting from the book:

“The conditions reminded me of the Muir Snowfield on Rainier in September. Open crevasses in the middle of the snowcat trail, water running over gravel-dusted ice with a layer of slush, bare dirt hills at 40% or better grade with waterfalls running down them.”

When I was there in September, all of the open crevasses on Elbrus across the Normal Route were well marked. Elbrus is climbed every day by local climbers. They wand the route very well. If you look carefully you can see the line of wands extending out to the Saddle, even from the Barrels nearly 5,000′ lower. I noticed them on my acclimatization hike to the Pastukhova Rocks, as well as on Summit Day. Some were pretty deep and I could see down probably 20′ or so. Most of them though were pretty narrow cracks, though it’s hard to say if there were holes under the snow bridges. The snowcats run over the route quite frequently, so I assumed they’d pack it down hard or break through.

Crevasses on Elbrus Gallery:

Standing across one of the crevasses on Elbrus
Standing across one of the crevasses on Elbrus
One of the deeper crevasses on Elbrus
One of the deeper crevasses on Elbrus
Looking across one of the crevasses on Elbrus
Looking across one of the crevasses on Elbrus
One of the crevasses on Elbrus, stretching across the glacier
One of the crevasses on Elbrus, stretching across the glacier
Straight down on one of the crevasses on Elbrus
Straight down on one of the crevasses on Elbrus

Right now I’m in the beginning stages of training for Elbrus Race 2013 with my friend and team-mate Todd Gilles. Here are links to our profiles on the list of participants:

My Profile [Charles Miske]
Todd’s Profile [Todd Gilles]

The crevasses on Elbrus shouldn’t be a problem for us at all. It will be late September, so it’s likely they’ll be open and exposed. But they’ll be wanded, and the event organizers will do everything they can to protect the runners.

Carstensz Pyramid Travel Warning

Carstensz Pyramid travel can be difficult. There are a few logistic hoops to jump through. Trekking in Equatorial Jungle. Various permits. Lack of helicopters. These are all issues to deal with. No one is going to rescue you and you need to be self-sufficient. You are taking a big risk. I had quite a few experiences of this nature when I climbed Carstensz in April of 2013. I wrote about them in my book Carstensz, Stone Age to Iron Age.

The mine was brought up as well. We were told that many expeditions had run into trouble with the mine, who in partnership with the local government owned all the land in the Carstensz area. With our government permits we were allowed to trek in, summit, then trek out. We would not be allowed to trespass, or cross any property of the mine not specifically spelled out in our permit. — Carstensz, Stone Age to Iron Age

My good friend at the logistics company I used for this trip posted this on the Facebook Event page for our climb of Carstensz Pyramid:

Carstensz Pyramid Travel and Climbing: Company Policy

Carstensz Pyramid Travel and Climbing - Freeport Mine Policy
Freeport Policy for Carstensz Climbers

Carstensz is indeed a logistical nightmare. There are only a mere handful of local operators able to handle the convoluted system of permits and porters and hiking trails that get you to the bottom of the cliffs of Carstensz. Then you have 2,000′ of climbing on steep limestone and gravel gullies with ratty fixed lines with poor anchors. While not technically severe in grade, the climbing has a fair amount of exposure, or perception of steepness and a deadly drop into the abyss between your heels. It’s not like Kilimanjaro, on which any reasonably fit person could walk up to the top. — Carstensz, Stone Age to Iron Age

If you want to see the full text of the (Carstensz Pyramid Travel and) Climbing Policy CLICK HERE

Carstensz Pyramid Gear List

To climb Carstensz Pyramid right now the only option is trekking. Six days up to base camp from Sugapa Village to the Carstensz Pyramid summit at nearly 4900 meters. Then four days to return to the village. There could be a few days of weather to contend with at base camp. You’ll need enough gear to last the two weeks. You’ll also need to be as light as possible, as the porters will only carry 17 kg. That’s about 37 lb.

17 Kilograms per Porter for the Carstensz Pyramid trek
17 Kilograms per Porter for the Carstensz Pyramid trek

Carstensz Pyramid Gear List

Climbing Gear
Alpine climbing harness, adjustable leg loops, fit over all clothing.
Double lanyard (Via Ferrata).
4 Locking carabiners.
Figure 8 Belay-Rappel Device.
1 mechanical ascender with handle.
Climbing helmet, fit with hat on
Trekking boots.
1 Pr rappel gloves.
Adjustable trekking poles.

Upper Body
Long sleeve base layer, light colored, sun and mosquito protection.
T-shirt for lower elevations (optional).
Soft Shell or fleece jacket.
Down/synthetic puffy jacket light-to-medium weight.
Hard shell jacket with hood Waterproof and breathable.
1 Pair liner gloves.
1 Pair medium weight gloves.
Warm hat Wool or synthetic.
Balaclava.
Sun hat or baseball cap.
Glacier glasses 100% UV protection with side shields and a hard-sided storage case.
Extra pair of sunglasses.

Sleeping Gear
Sleeping bag Rated to at least 10-20º F. Line the stuff sack w/plastic bag.
Sleeping pad Full length closed cell foam.
Thermarest (bring repair kit).

Backpack
Day pack 1800-3000 cubic inch for approach hike and summit day (a full pack is not required as we use porters).
1 Large duffel bag.
1 Small duffel bag for leaving clean clothes etc at Timika.
Locks for duffel bags.
Backpack Cover – waterproof.
Stuff sacks & plastic bags– waterproof.

Lower Body
1-2 Pair light-medium weight base layer.
1-2 pair lightweight short underwear.
1 Pair soft shell trousers.
1 Pair nylon shorts quick-drying type.
Lightweight pants for hiking.
Shell trousers Waterproof/breathable with full side zips.

Carstensz Pyramid Trekking Boots Scarpa Charmoz GTX
Carstensz Pyramid Trekking Boots Scarpa Charmoz GTX

Footwear
Trekking Boots.
Wellingtons (these must be knee-high and fitted with trekking boot insoles; you will spend much more time walking in Wellingtons than trekking boots).
Gaiters.
Sandals or light hiking/trail shoes for use at camp.
2 Pair of liner socks.
2 Pair wool/synthetic socks Medium weight.

purificup water purifier for Carstensz Pyramid gear
Purificup for clean water on Carstensz Pyramid

Miscellaneous Equipment
Personal first aid kit Basics: blister kit, Band-Aids, first-aid tape, ibuprofen, personal medications, etc.

Lip balm At least SPF 20, 2 sticks.
Sunscreen At least SPF 40.
Insect repellant Small bottle.
Headlamp plus one set spare batteries.
2-3 Water bottles 1 liter wide-mouth Nalgene.
Pee bottle.
Pocket knife mid-size.
Water purification Silver ion, Chlorine or Iodine tablets.
Hand sanitizer.
Toiletry kit Be sure to include toilet paper stored in a plastic bag.
Camp towel.
Bandanas (one, optional).
Neck gaiter (optional).
Snacks and/or munchies Bring your favorite “trail foods” or desserts, pack in Ziplocs. Preferably to include extra protein.
Camera Optional; large SLR types are not recommended.
Paperback books.
Walkman etc + 2 sets earphones.
Solar charger.
Small stainless thermos (optional).
Umbrella (optional but recommended).

Carstensz Pyramid Solar Power Battery Pack
Solar Power via Goal Zero for Carstensz Pyramid Climb

Carstensz Pyramid Gear List From Carstensz-Expedition
Guide 10 Solar Powered Battery Pack from Goal Zero
Purificup Water Purification System.

Carstensz Itinerary

Carstensz Pyramid is the highest point of the continent of Oceania. Oceania is the continent used to get Carstensz into the Seven Summits for the Messner list. For the Bass list you would use Kosciousko on Australia. This is a much simpler alternative in almost every way.

Carstensz highest point of Oceania, image by Ch1902 Wikipedia
Orthographic map of the Australasian part of Oceania: Australia, New Guinea, Island Melanesia, and New Zealand, but excluding the Maluccas – by Ch1902 on Wikipedia

Carstensz Itinerary

Day 1, 20 Apr : Welcome dinner in Bali
Day 2, 21 Apr : 00.30am check out. 02.15am fly to Timika.
07.00am arrival in Timika. gear check etc.
Day 3, 22 Apr : Charter flight – Timika to Sugapa-Bilogai airstrip.
Porters arrangement then travel by motorcycle to Muara River.
trek to Suanggama (last village).
Day 4, 23 Apr : Trekking from Suanggama to Camp I.
Day 5, 24 Apr : Trekking from Camp I to Camp II (Enda Tsiga).
Day 6, 25 Apr : Trekking from Camp II to Camp III (Ebay).
Day 7, 26 Apr : Trekking from Camp III to Camp IV (Nasidome).
Day 8, 27 Apr : Trekking to Carstensz Base Camp.
Day 9, 28 Apr : Carstensz Climb.
Day 10, 29 Apr : Basecamp – Nasidome.
Day 11, 30 Apr : Nasidome – Enda Tsiga passing Ebay – the shortest trek.
Day 12, 1 May : Enda Tsiga – Suanggama if possible, continue to Sugapa).
Day 13, 2 May : (early morn, Suanggama-Sugapa) then fly out to NABIRE Day.
Day 14, 3 May : fly to Bali.
Day 15-17 , 4-6 May : Preserve days for bad weather, flight delay, etc.

If there is good weather and a strong team we could fly to Bali on Day 13, May 2. Otherwise worst case, on Day 17, May 6. Speaking of weather, today I can get a forecast to April 25 via Mountain-Forecast.

Carstensz Weather – Trailhead Sugapa 2000 meters

Carstensz Trailhead Weather
Carstensz weather for the trailhead near Sugapa Airport

Carstensz Weather – Base Camp 4200 meters

Carstensz Base Camp Weather
Carstensz Base Camp – weather at 4200 meters

Carstensz Weather – Summit 4900 meters

Carstensz Summit Weather
Carstensz Summit -Weather at 4900 meters

Trekking to the base of Carstensz Pyramid is a very rugged adventure. Lots of mud, insects, rain, humidity. It’s a big challenge. I’m hoping that my training pays off and that I can endure the Carstensz Seven Summits Challenge.

Orizaba Mountain Clothing for Upper Body

When Todd and I climbed Orizaba on May 5 2013 it was a pretty warm day with very good conditions. The mountain clothing we were able to wear that day probably won’t reflect average conditions.

Mountain Clothing for Orizaba highest mountain in Mexico
Todd and I on the Summit of Orizaba at 18,500′ highest mountain in Mexico

Previously I discussed the mountain clothing I wore on my lower body during our summit attempt. This time I will focus on my upper body. It was very warm, and we were only planning to do an acclimatization hike. We didn’t have a lot of warmer clothing that we would normally take. Usually you start a summit attempt at 1:00 AM when it’s much colder. This of course meant we had lighter packs.

upper body mountain clothing base layers
Layers put on at the beginning of our hike

Upper Body Mountain Clothing

I began with a Nike tech short sleeve shirt from a half marathon I ran in American Fork Utah. Over this I wore a Patagonia R1 Hoodie. The way it fits is almost like a medium weight base layer but the waffle pattern lets it breathe very well. I started out with a Buff around my neck in case it gets cold or windy. I wore a new Patagonia Cap 4 beanie. Very light waffle polyester for excellent moisture control. I can wear the hood from the R1 if I get cold. The gloves pictured are First Ascent fleece gloves. I wear them for almost everything I do.

Orizaba Glacier Mountain Clothing Second Layers
Second layer clothing on the glacier

We stopped at the bottom of the glacier at roughly 16,400′ to decide what to do. We ate some food and drank water. We looked up at the glacier with decent conditions. We decided to just try to summit. Since we would now be on snow I put on some more layers of mountain clothing. I added a Patagonia R2 fleece (like thin monkey fleece as it’s often called). I like this because it breathes very well and is pretty warm with a wind layer. For the wind layer I used a First Ascent hooded wind jacket. I don’t think they make it anymore, but it’s pretty similar to the Marmot Trail Wind Hoody. That’s all I added or changed.

upper body mountain clothing on Orizaba in Mexico
At the top of the labyrinth with Orizaba summit above.

At about 18,000′, not too far from the summit, I became a little cool. I knew the summit was not too far away. It would be harder to stop, open my pack, and add layers while standing on a 50 degree ice slope. I stuck it out till we hit the top at 5:10 PM. Then I quickly opened my pack and pulled out my Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket to keep my core warm. When looking for a thin down hoody I searched for quite a while to find this excellent item of mountain clothing. I especially love the sleeve fit. Long enough for my monkey arms and form fitting enough not to be too baggy in backpack straps.

Orizaba Summit Mountain Clothing
Final layer for Orizaba Summit

With all the photography and videography going on up top my hands became cold. I have a pair of Mountain Hardwear climbing gloves with removable fleece liners. I don’t like the liners all that much but my First Ascent liners fit well in them. I slid the shells over my fleece gloves to keep the wind off as the sun set and the temperatures dropped.

Descending at sunset in the cold with mountain clothing on Orizaba
Descending Orizaba with a setting sun.

The temperatures dropped. We got lost in the labyrinth in the dark. We made our way through a maze of cliffs with failing batteries. Finally we saw headlamps from climbers at the hut preparing for their summit. We found our way to a cairn we recognized and arrived at the hut passing the first wave of climbers ascending. We knew even if we had to sit huddled behind a rock till sunrise that we’d be okay. The right mountain clothing can make all the difference.

Safe Water in Mexico with Purificup

Before I left for Orizaba I was concerned about getting safe water in Mexico. I’ve been sick on a few mountains before. I didn’t want to risk this summit on bad water. I went to Orizaba in 2008 and was too weak and inexperienced to finish. I felt ready this time. I have been using the Purificup Water Purifier. It’s small convenient and easy to use.

Safe water in Mexico packing my filter
The Purificup in place with my gear before I left for Orizaba

To ensure safe water in Mexico I packed my Purificup with my other gear before I left. I usually pack it in a neoprene bicycle bottle cover. It’s the right size, and can help prevent bangs, scratches, and freezing. Here I wrote about how to prepare and how to use the Purificup. I was very impressed with the way it provided safe water in Argentina when I attempted Aconcagua.

Purificup in Neoprene Sleeve for Safe water in Mexico
Purificup Upper Left in Blue Neoprene Sleeve

Safe water in Tlachichuca Mexico

My friend Todd and I used Servimont, an Orizaba logistics company in Tlachichuca. We stayed in their bunkhouse. Across the courtyard from the lodge is a bath house with sinks. I went to make safe water in Tlachichuca with my Purificup. I set my Nalgene on the nearly level window sill and removed the caps from the Purificup. The filter unit fits over the wide mouth bottle. I filled the dirty water cup from the faucet and set it atop the filter, then walked away to do other stuff while gravity did its thing.

Safe water in Tlachicuca at Servimont
Purificup in the window sill at the Servimont Bath house

In the meanwhile, Todd used his pump filter unit. He filled an empty one quart poly sports drink bottle with dirty water. He stuck the hose from the filter into that bottle, and the other end of the hose into his Nalgene. He started pumping.

Safe water in Tlachichuca with a pump filter
Todd pumping water through his filter unit

I went back and forth sorting my gear and filling the cup at the top of the Purificup. Three nearly-full cups is a liter of water in the Nalgene. It takes only a few minutes per cup, and the best part is it can be done without any intervention or attention. In no time I had two full Nalgenes.

safe water in Mexico with gravity fed Purificup
Filling the Nalgene with purified water via gravity and Purificup

Todd on the other hand was still pumping away. And getting warm in the sun from his efforts. After he was done he still had to catch up on the gear sorting I’d been able to do in between fills of the Purificup.

Safe water in Mexico with water filtration
Still pumping at the filter in the Servimont facility in Tlachichuca

Long story short I was able to get four liters of water ready for our first day on the mountain. Sadly, or happily as the case may be, we managed to hit the summit within 30 hours of arriving at base camp. Otherwise I was going to test the Purificup with the surface and irrigation water. Probably a lot like the water on Aconcagua I expect. A normal trip to Piedra Grande base camp at 14,000′ on the route to the 18,500′ summit of Orizaba spends about 3-4 days acclimatizing before the summit.

Orizaba highest mountain in Mexico
Todd and I on the Summit of Orizaba at 18,500′ highest mountain in Mexico

After we returned home, Todd said he needs to check out the Purificup for his future climbing trips.