How to get thereFrom Mexico City via Chalco and Amacameca approximately 86km/53mi to the mountain hut (albergue) at Tlamacas. From Puebla to Chalco, from there 43km/27mi along a poor road via San Nicolas de los Ranchos to the Paso de Cortés. Then turn south to Tlamacas (departure point for Popocatépetl), 5km/3mi away. Turn north for 7km/4.3mi to La Joya (departure point for Iztaccíhuatl).A volcanic belt, which crosses Mexico from the Pacific to the Atlantic, forms the southern edge of the extensive Mexican highlands. In the early and middle tertiary period enormous lava flows poured over the land. During the second phase of eruptions, which began in Pliozän and still continues, the enormous mountains Popocatépetl (5452 m (17,893 ft)) and Iztaccíhuatl (5286 m (17,349 ft)) came into being. These two majestic snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada form the mountain ridge separating the high valley of Mexico and the plateau of Puebla. Since 1994 Popacatépetl has frequently spewed forth fragments of rock, ash and smoke. One eruption at the end of 1997 covered an area of 100 sq m (1075 sq ft) with a fine layer of ash. UNESCO has granted world cultural heritage status to fourteen of the early 16th c. monasteries lying on the slopes of the volcano.AdviceAn ascent of the two volcanoes does not require any great climbing ability but should not be undertaken without the appropriate equipment. The climb should be made slowly but continuously. Too fast a pace can result in altitude-induced circulation problems. The inexperienced are advised to use the services of a guide. It is best to climb the mountains between November and March. According to the wind direction sulphurous vapours can aggravate the ascent.The route from Amecameca to Tlamacas passes through Popocatépetl-Iztaccíhuatl National Park, which lies between the two passes and reaches the Paso de Cortés (Cortés Pass).
Paso de Cortés
Hernán Cortés and his conquistadors crossed this pass on November 3rd 1519 on their march from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to Tenochtitlán.Popocatépetl (Náhuatl: "Smoking Mountain") is an active volcano. The massive crater at the snow-covered summit measures 826 m (2711 ft) 3 400 m (1313 ft), its rocky walls are almost vertical.There have been major and minor eruptions - December 2000 was the most recent major eruption; a cloud of smoke frequently hovers above the summit. Since the time of the conqueror Cortés great amounts of sulphur, originally used for the manufacture of gunpowder, have been extracted from the crater.
Iztaccíhuatl or Ixtaccíhuatl (Náhuatl: "white woman") Mountain is reached by taking the road from the Paso de Cortés towards La Joya. This craterless mountain, in legend a princess who died from lovesickness and who was united in death with the warrior Popocatépetl, lies approximately 15km/9.3mi from Popocatépetl. Viewed from Mexico City, if visibility permits, the outline of Iztaccíhuatl's three snow-covered peaks resembles the head, chest and knees of a recumbent female figure. Two days should be allowed for the difficult ascent and descent; small bivouac shelters are available. The radio station Torre Retransmisora, at a height of 3950 m (12,964 ft), offers good and cheap overnight accommodation before and after the ascent.It is 23km/14mi from Paso de Cortés to Amecameca.