Iztaccíhuatl

Iztaccíhuatl (alternative spellings include Ixtaccíhuatl, or either variant spelled without the accent) (Nahuatl pronunciation: [istak'siwatl], is the third highest mountain in Mexico, after the Pico de Orizaba (5,636 m) and Popocatépetl (5,426 m). Its name is Nahuatl for "white woman".

The mountain has four peaks, the highest of which is 5,230 m (17,159 ft) above sea level. Together, the peaks are seen as depicting the head, chest, knees and feet of a sleeping female figure, which is visible from either the east or the west. Iztaccíhuatl is a mere 70 km (44 mi) to the southeast of Mexico City and is often visible from the capital, depending on atmospheric conditions.

While the first recorded ascent was made in 1889, archaeological evidence suggests that the Aztecs and previous cultures also climbed the mountain.

This is the lowest peak that contains permanent snow and glaciers in Mexico.

Iztaccíhuatl lies to the north of Popocatépetl, and is connected to it by the high pass called the Paso de Cortés.

 

Geology

The volcano is series of overlapping cones constructed along a NNW-SSE line to the south of the Pleistocene Llano Grande caldera forms the summit ridge of the massive 450 cu km volcano. Andesitic and dacitic Pleistocene and Recent volcanism has taken place from vents at or near the summit. Areas near the summit vent (El Pecho) are covered in flows and tuff beds post-dating glaciation c.11ka BP. The most recent vents are located at the summit and a depression at 5100 m (3.2 mi) along the summit ridge midway between El Pecho and Los Pies.

The Legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl

In Aztec mythology, Iztaccíhuatl was a princess who fell in love with Popocatépetl, one of her father's warriors. The king sent Popocatépetl to war in Oaxaca, promising him Iztaccíhuatl as his wife when he would return (which Iztaccíhuatl's father presumed he would not). Iztaccíhuatl was falsely told Popocatépetl had died in battle, and believing the news, she died of grief. When Popocatépetl returned to find his love dead, he kneeled by her grave. The gods covered them with snow and changed them into mountains. Iztaccíhuatl's mountain is called "White Woman" because it resembles a woman sleeping on her back, and is often covered with snow. (The peak is sometimes nicknamed La Mujer Dormida ("The Sleeping Woman").) He became the volcano Popocatépetl, raining fire on Earth in blind rage at the loss of his beloved.

A different legend, involving the Nevado de Toluca as well as Popocatépetl, is mentioned on the Popocatépetl page.

 

 

 

 


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