Women’s Summit for Someone Climb on Pico De Orizaba

By: Jessica Hamel, Summit for Someone climber

(This trip was made possible by wonderful sponsors: NEMO Equipment, La Sportiva and Deuter.)

There’s something powerful about spending time outdoors. With each experience outside people tend to grow, change and transform. Four women from different backgrounds impassioned and connected by how their own outdoor experiences shaped them decided to help a next generation transform through the outdoors through the Big City Mountaineers Summit for Someone program.

Photo by: Josh Vertucci

The Orizaba adventure began with two very sleepy flights to Mexico and a catnap on the airport floor. Here we were, traveling to another country, to climb to the highest height a majority of us had ever been. (Big City Mountaineers Board Member and member of the womens’ team, Georgina Miranda, has climbed 6 of the 7 summits!) We were totally out of our element, but ready to charge full steam ahead into this experience. We couldn’t help but reflect on how Big City Mountaineers youth would feel later this summer heading out, mostly for their first time, on a week in the backcountry.

“I learned I am stronger than I think and can do whatever I set my mind to” -BCM Youth

The drive to our climbers’ hostel in Tlachichuca was long, but driving through the different parts of Mexico gave us an eye-opening perspective. We come from such a different world than those living in many parts of Mexico. We, probably, also come from different home and life scenarios than the under-resourced youth heading out on BCM trips.

Photo by: Josh Vertucci
Photo by: Josh Vertucci

Over the next few days, we rested, planned out the climb, checked our gear and began our acclimatization period on the mountain. During this time, our nerves began to act up in anticipation of summit day. We quietly sat and wondered to ourselves, “Am I ready? Are our bodies going to respond well to the altitude? Are we going to make it to the summit?” Elizabeth Williams, BCM Program Director and part of the team, shared stories of the youth on her trips anticipating their summit days.

“One of my biggest challenges is thinking that I can’t do it. Out here, I learned to ignore those thoughts and do it anyway.” -BCM youth

The night before the summit, we escaped from the hut at 14,000ft to sleep under the stars at 15,000+ ft. Sleep may not be the correct word here. You may want to think of it more like anxiously waiting in your sleeping bag as quietly as possible so you don’t bother your tentmate who may or may not be sleeping until the alarm goes off. The moment was finally here. At 3AM we would start our journey up towards the summit at 18,491ft.

Photo by: Josh Vertucci
Photo by: Josh Vertucci

The climb to the summit was slow, yet anything but relaxed. Each step was taken with intention. We slowly began to breathe harder and harder as the air thinned out. Most of the Big City Mountaineers do a ‘summit day’ during their week-long expeditions. They’re not always used to hiking mountains and it’s usually a long day for them. During our climb, we couldn’t help to hear the words of one Big City Mountaineers youth in our heads:

“Each step, each breath, it is the most memorable time of my life” -BCM youth

We made it.

After a massive effort, we made it to the summit of Pico De Orizaba. Standing on the summit, we knew and felt it was for something more than us. It was for the Big City Mountaineers youth. We were able to dedicate our frivolous outdoor activities to get a new generation outdoors to grow, learn, become more confident and transform.

“I learned mental toughness when dealing with challenge. No longer will I let fear stop me from doing what I want to do.” -BCM youth

Interested in doing a Summit for Someone? Check out the guided climbers or create your own: http://www.bigcitymountaineers.org/summit-for-someone/ or donate to Big City Mountaineers: http://bigcitymountaineers.org/donate/

We want to send a huge ‘thank you!’ to all of the brands that made this trip possible and donated to get under-resourced kid out on transformative wilderness experiences: NEMO Equipment, La Sportiva and Deuter.


Here’s why we climbed for Big City Mountaineers:

“I’m excited and honored to Summit for Someone because I believe the outdoors belong to everyone. Summits are so much sweeter when they make outdoor experiences possible for kids, too. My life has been transformed by time spend in the mountains, and I can’t wait to see what it does for the kiddos BCM serves.” -Emma Walker

“As BCM’s Program Director I choose to be a Summit for Someone Climber to experience new challenges in the outdoors, just like our youth do. While Pico de Orizaba is a much bigger mountain than the ones our kids climb, the experience it the same — the challenge, the fear of failure, the perseverance, and then (hopefully) getting to say, ‘that’s something I didn’t know if I could do — but I did!’ Overcoming challenges, learning to put one foot in front of the other even when its hard, and celebrating success with close friends are skills the outdoors have taught me. BCM provides these same experiences to our youth and shows them how to use the skills they gain in the real world.” -Elizabeth Williams

“I am so grateful to discovering a love for adventure and setting new limits for myself beyond anything I “should have ever been.” The positive impact of an expedition can last a lifetime and set individuals on a whole new life path. Adventure lets us see beyond our current limitations or perceived limitations, it opens our eyes to all that is possible. BCM gives this opportunity to kids that otherwise would not have this chance.” -Georgina Miranda

“Being able to Summit for Someone gives me the opportunity to make my summit about something more. The outdoors has made me stronger, more confident and more willing to take risks. I hope this climb can help the BCM youth in the same way.” -Jessica Hamel