(alternative spellings include Ixtaccíhuatl
, or either variant spelled without the accent) (istakˈsiwatɬ or, as spelled with the x
, iʃtakˈsiwatɬ), is the third highest mountain
, 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 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 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.
The Legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl
In Aztec mythology
was a princess who fell in love with one of her father's warriors. Her father sent her lover to a war in Oaxaca
, promising him his daughter as his wife if he returned (which Iztaccíhuatl's father presumed he would not). Iztaccíhuatl was told her lover was dead and she died of grief. When Popocatépetl returned, he in turn died of grief over losing her. 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 Popo, is mentioned on the Popocatépetl page.
This is usually quoted at 5286 m but SRTM
and Mexican national survey mapping agree that 5230 m is more accurate.