Sierra Negra (15,354 feet)

DB on the summit

With DB and Henry the Mountain Man, we arranged a ride through our Puebla hotel, a charming place I've stayed at on two different Mexico climbing trips. The driver, a likeable guy who spoke no English, took us all the way up the steep, sandy road to the locked gate. From there, we left him with some food, as he'd be waiting there for our return.

Hiking up the easy road, the views grew, our moods blossomed, and my love for the mountains was once again invigorated. What a terrific, albeit developed, mountain Sierra Negra is. Near the summit compound, which encircles a cluster of buildings, a bunch of antennae, and a massive telescope, we met Manuel, a security guard who gave us a personal tour of the facility.

We managed to get a few decent photos from the summit, but in typical early afternoon mountain fashion, clouds rolled in and soon we were immersed in a gray that did nothing to phase our enthusiasm for the place.

While walking the road back down was a less-than-inspiring endeavor, the surrounding area was beautiful. The forest was thick and green, the views from this tall mountain were sublime, and of course, giant Orizaba sits right next door. This, the dry side of Orizaba, has quite a different look from the glaciated side my partners and I had climbed only a couple years earlier.