Thursday, July 18, 2024

Last missing climber from Pico de Orizaba expedition found dead

A mountain climber by the name of José Luis Díaz Morales was found dead on Pico de Orizaba on Tuesday, state authorities said.

Díaz Morales was the last of three missing mountain climbers to be located after a summit expedition turned deadly on Saturday, Feb. 17. Nine of the 12-person crew descended safely, while a total of three climbers, including the group’s guide, died on the mountain.

Ten of the 12 climbers who summited Pico de Orizaba on Feb. 17. Three died while descending in dangerous weather conditions. (@Trafico_ZMG/X)

Pico de Orizaba, atop the Citlaltépetl mountain, is Mexico’s highest peak and the third-highest point in the Americas at 5,636 meters. The peak, at the border of Puebla and Veracruz, is a popular summiting goal among experienced mountaineers.

Cold weather conditions and low visibility caused the climbers to lose their way while descending the mountain on Feb. 17. According to newspaper Milenio, a climber by the name of Pablo alerted authorities that the group had lost several members, initiating a 10-day rescue effort by the Mountain Aid and Rescue Brigade of Mexico, Puebla Civil Protection authorities and the municipal police of Atzitzintla.  

The body of Díaz Morales was located near a base known as Espinazo del Diablo, or “devil’s backbone,” some 4,910 meters above sea level. Authorities delivered his body to the Forensic Medical Service in Ciudad Serdán for autopsy, and to transfer the body of 57-year-old climber to his native Jalisco. 

Authorities had previously located the bodies of Jessica N., 39, on Feb. 18, and Luis Flores, 57, on Feb. 20. All were members of a mountain climbing group based in the state of Jalisco. Several of the nine survivors are still recovering from dehydration and hypothermia, as well as the trauma of the experience. 

This month’s tragedy on Orizaba is not the first time climbers have fallen victim to the perilous peak. According to statistics by newspaper El Sol de Puebla, 17 mountaineers have died on Pico de Orizaba since 2015. 

With reports from Milenio and El Sol de Puebla

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