Watch: Four Friends Attempt to Climb and Ski North America’s 3rd Tallest Peak—in a Weekend

Looking back on our expedition to climb and ski Pico de Orizaba, the third highest peak in North America, in a weekend, and comparing it to every other weekend I have had since, I can’t really even draw a line. We set out to push our limits and go big. What we found both surprised us and gave us a new perspective on what is actually possible within the confines of a traditional Saturday/Sunday weekend. In so many ways our shotgun journey south of the border into Mexico alongside friends and fellow adventure athletes Joey Schusler and Thomas Woodson, and our enthusiastic but 9-to-5 job-laden friend Karl, was doomed from the start.

The team had the lofty goal of climbing up and skiing down Pico de Orizaba, Mexico, in a weekend; Photograph by Joey Schusler
The team had the lofty goal of climbing up and skiing down Pico de Orizaba, Mexico, in a weekend; Photograph by Joey Schusler

With a late arrival into Veracruz, lost ski bags, a severe lack of route knowledge, a rental car that barely managed to carry us up the treacherous, muddy, and rutted road to the hut, our striking out point at 14,000 feet, was all just a start to the debacle. Climbing an 18,000-foot peak from sea level in a weekend presents a whole different set of challenges beyond logistical ones. The several miles of hiking and 5,000 feet of vertical gain from the hut made climbing this volcano in the middle of Mexico one of the hardest things I have done in recent years—and why I am also proud to say we made it to the summit of that peak and back with only semi-severe sunburns and altitude sickness.

Skiing down Pico de Orizaba, Mexico, above the clouds; Photograph by Max Lowe
Skiing down Pico de Orizaba, Mexico, above the clouds; Photograph by Max Lowe

To hear and see more about how we managed to pull of climbing and skiing off Pico De Orizaba, round trip from Denver International Airport, in a single weekend, go ahead and watch our film here. If you’re interested, a detailed hour-by-hour account of our feat in The Ski Journal.