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Alpine Habitats

In this episode we'll learn:

  • Where alpine habitats are found
  • About Pico de Orizaba (case study)
  • Altitude effects
  • Conditions for survival


Alpine Communities

Where are they found?

Alpine communities are found in climates that are covered by snow a good portion of the year. Over the years that we have been leading expeditions to remote areas of the globe, we've encountered them often. Most of the time it is on the high mountians. In Alaska we encountered these zones quite low. In Mexico we found them on the tops of the volcanic mountains. We found one of them in the state of Veracruz - Pico de Orizaba.

Pico de Orizaba

About Pico de Orizaba.

Pico de Orizaba is 18,700 feet tall. It stands as the third highest mountain in North America and the tallest in Mexico. The mountain is one of the few tall mountains that is not a technical climb. Crampons and ice axes are, however, very important to bring on a hike such as this.

Conditions for life.

Life that exists on the mountain must be able to withstand the extremes of wind and snow. On Orizaba, the peak is almost always covered in snow. Along the sides, where the snow melts, it is possible for life to exist. Often these organisms have special liquids that prevent them from freezing as the temperature drops.

Pico de Orizaba


Orizaba is a very tall mountain. When climbing it, it is important to acclimate well at each days stop. If not, there is risk of coming down with Acute Altitude Sickness, a potentially lethal sickness if not readily treated. There are some pills which can be taken, but for the most part time is the best cure.

Text by Rob Nelson

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