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Outdoor Pursuits summits 3rd highest peak in North America

How did you spend your spring break?

During Fort Lewis College's spring break in March, a team of students and Outdoor Pursuits staff tackled North America’s third-highest mountain, the 18,491-foot Pico de Orizaba, east of Mexico City in the state of Puebla. On Thursday, March 27th, the entire team -- eight students and two staff -- summited the volcano, after months of preparation and training.

Over the course of four days, “Team Orizaba” worked their way up the mountain, establishing a high camp at 15,600 feet. At 2:30 a.m. the team left the high camp and began the technical climb through what is known as “The Labyrinth” up to the foot of the mountain-top glacier. From there 1,500 feet of snow and ice led the team to the summit crater.

The team joins the ranks of other Outdoor Pursuits groups to have attempted and succeeded on world-class peaks, including Denali, in Alaska (20,320 feet); Aconcauga, in Argentina (22,837 feet); Mt. Elbrus, in Russia (18,510 feet); and Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania (19,341 feet).

After months of training and pre-dawn workouts, team Orizaba has bags loaded and is ready for departure! Back row: Derrick Moody, Dan Kaplan, Brandt Kreun, Gus Allen, Patrick Yarbrough, Jacob Boyd. Front row: Matt Henry, Brett Davis, Sam Hensold, Charly McConaghy

After months of training and pre-dawn workouts, team Orizaba has bags loaded and is ready for departure! Back row: Derrick Moody, Dan Kaplan, Brandt Kreun, Gus Allen, Patrick Yarbrough, Jacob Boyd. Front row: Matt Henry, Brett Davis, Sam Hensold, Charly McConaghy

The team’s ascent route visible from the Northwest side of Pico de Orizaba.

The team’s ascent route visible from the Northwest side of Pico de Orizaba.

Derrick Moody moving at sunrise to acclimatize and haul equipment and water to high camp.

Derrick Moody moving at sunrise to acclimatize and haul equipment and water to high camp.

The route to high camp as it winds through the glacial moraine.

The route to high camp as it winds through the glacial moraine.

Setting up high camp at 15,600 ft, just below the toe of the glacier, with views into the states of Puebla (left) and Veracruz (right).

Setting up high camp at 15,600 ft, just below the toe of the glacier, with views into the states of Puebla (left) and Veracruz (right).

Jacob Boyd (left) and Derrick Moody, practicing knots before summit day.

Jacob Boyd (left) and Derrick Moody, practicing knots before summit day.

Gus Allen emerges into the warmth of sunlight as he approaches the crater rim.

Gus Allen emerges into the warmth of sunlight as he approaches the crater rim.

With below freezing temperatures and high winds, the team briefly celebrates everyone reaching the 18,491 ft summit. Back row: Brandt Kreun, Charly McConaghy, Sam Hensold, Derrick Moody, Dan Kaplan, Matt Henry, Patrick Yarbrough, Gus Allen. Front Row: Brett Davis, Jacob Boyd.

With below freezing temperatures and high winds, the team briefly celebrates everyone reaching the 18,491 ft summit. Back row: Brandt Kreun, Charly McConaghy, Sam Hensold, Derrick Moody, Dan Kaplan, Matt Henry, Patrick Yarbrough, Gus Allen. Front Row: Brett Davis, Jacob Boyd.

Learn more about Outdoor Pursuits.

All photos courtesy of Outdoor Pursuits. 

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