Mexico (5,636 m) – Sacred Mountain of the Aztecs and Other Local Tribes
Pico de Orizaba, a dormant volcano, is the highest mountain in Mexico. It last erupted in the 1800s. A religiously and culturally important peak to pre-Columbian civilizations, the mountain was a site of worship and pilgrimage to various groups including the Totanacs, Olmecs, Aztecs and Mayans. Pico de Orizaba had earlier names, most notably Citlaltepetl, which means Star Mountain.
According to legend, Pico de Orizaba was formed by a powerful eagle spirit in primordial times. The Olmec peoples and others made regular pilgrimages to the mountain in order to worship and make sacrifices. The first Europeans to explore the area were Spanish Conquistadors under Hernando Cortes enroute to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. During the colonial era it became an importan landmark on the trade road from Mexico City to Veracruz. Pico de Oribaza was incorporated into a national park in 1936.
Pico de Orizaba was regularly climbed by pilgrims in ancient times. Despite its accessibility and relatively easy climb, it is not known when the first post-Columbian ascent took place. The first recorded ascent was by two Americans in 1848 following the Mexican-American War. Located in one of Mexico’s most densely populated corridors, Pico de Orizaba is easily accessible from both Mexico City 120 miles to the west and Veracruz 80 miles to the east. On a clear day it is visible from the Gulf Coast.