Archive for June, 2011

Day 30 – Sport climbing at Los Olivos

We met Vicky and Fernando as well as Alex and Hamik, 2 Californians we had met in the Ishinca Valley at 10am at Plaza de Armas. We had 2 full ropes and plenty of quick draws between us. Alex and I rented a crash pad for S15 ($5) and I rented rock shoes and a harness for S10 ($3.33). I didn’t feel comforable sport climbing with my glacier harness, since the straps are very thin and it would have been pretty uncomfortable.

I then became our official haggler and got us a taxi the 15 minutes to Los Olivos for S6, or S1 per person ($0.33). We were squeezed in pretty tight, with Hamik laying on the crash pad in the boot.

We had a good day, finding plenty of routes to climb. The rock was very nice and juggy. There were also many bouldering problems including a cave that we had tried a few weeks ago.

We stayed for 5 hours or so and were back in Huaraz by 4:30pm. Alex and Hamik went to a gringo restaurant, Fernando and Vicky went home, and other Alex and I went to a chinese “Chifa” place for S5 each.

I was very tired, so went to bed. I hadn’t slept last night because I had been thinking about my interview this morning.

Day 28 – Return to Huaraz

We spent about 4 hours walking back out of the Ishinca Valley to Pashpa. At Laguna Cochobampa there was a taxi who would have charged us S60 ($20) back to Huaraz. There were another 2 climbers who had come back from the Ishinca Valley, so this would have been S15 each ($5), but we were told that there was a collectivo in Pashpa that would take us back to Huaraz for S5. We arrived in Pashpa at 12:30pm and were told that the collectivo would leave at 1pm. Someone offered us a taxi for S70.

After over an hour, the collectivo finally came around 1:45pm, but was full. We were told that there would be no more collectivos for the day. The taxi that would have charged S70 was now asking S100. After a while, one of the climbers who had come down, a Peruvian guide, called a taxi company from Huaraz and we caught it back for S60 around 3:30pm. The whole ordeal was pretty unfortunate. We were just looking forward to getting back.

Arrived back in Huaraz, ate a ton of food from all the street stands and went to bed

Day 27 – Climb Tocllaraju

We left camp bright and early at 3am. It was nice being able to rope up and attach our crampons right from camp. We started off about an hour or 1.5 hours after a guided group with 4 Australian clients. As we went, we would occasionally see their headlights far off in the distance. Vicky and Fernando started off at about the same time as us.

There was an hour or section through avalanche rubble. Both of our feet got pretty cold, since the sun was still a ways off from rising. We got to the base of a bergshrund and had to wait while the guided group went up first. Two ice screws were used for protection. The slope was perhaps 60 or 65 degrees at the steepest part. I led up the bergshrund, placing screws which Alex reclaimed on passing them. There was then a 60m slope, which we simul-climbed in 2 pitches.

This gave us access to the ridge, which we arrived at just after sunrise. It was then another few hours to the summit. We did the final summit pyramid in 2 pitches. At the base was a crevasses with a few snow bridges across. I figured this would be a good chance to show Alex how strong snow and ice are. I asked him to give me a tight belay and I cautiously headed over the smallest snow bridge, maybe just over a foot wide at the thinnest part and eerily skinny. But lo and behold, it held, and I was across, leading the first of 2 30m pitches to the summit ridge.

We pushed with our last remaining energy the 5-10 minutes to the summit. It was motivating being able to see the summit as we pushed forwards. Maybe 15 minutes spent on the summit taking photos and having a snack before the descent. We were thinking that one of us would have to downclimb one 30m pitch, since with only 2 30m ropes, we could repel a maximum of 30m.

Just as we got to the top of the pitch, Vicky and Fernando got up on their way to the summit. Since they had 2 60m ropes, they left them with us to rapel while they went onwards to the summit.

The rest of the way back was straightforwards, with a tricky bit at the bergshrund. Since it was 60m, I belayed Alex down from a picket, where he had to take his weight off the rope to pass over the knot. I then downclimbed the 60m

Round trip time from high camp: ~11h. We relaxed for a couple hours once back, feeling exhausted. It then began to hail, so we quickly packed our things and started back towards base camp. We were pretty drained for the way back and the boulder field for the first part of the way back was slippery. When we arrived back at base camp, we bought a couple beers for S5 each ($1.67) as we passed the stand, we set up camp, and went straight to sleep. We left the door closed since it was drizzling most of the night.

Day 26 – Tocllaraju high camp

We allowed ourselves to sleep until 7 and then began packing up camp. I was happy to be able to eat some oatmeal and was feeling better than the previous days.

We left the Ishinca Valley at 9:30am  and arrived at high camp at 12:30pm. About 45 minutes before arriving we saw some porters closing in on us. The race to high camp was on! Within the last 5 minutes or so the porters took a shortcut and narrowly beat us. So much for getting the best tent spot! We found a descent spot anyways after clearing away a bunch of loose rock. We’re now relaxing at camp, getting psyched for the climb tomorrow. This will be the most difficult climb we attempt of the trip, rated a D

Day 25 – Climb Ishinca

We woke up at 4am and quickly readied ourselves for the climb. I forced down a granola bar, giving me a total of 500 calories or so over the past 48 hours. I knew that I would need energy to make it to the summit.

I was going slow the whole day since my energy levels felt quite drained. After an hour or so Vicky and Fernando caught up to us, a Spanish couple who we had been friendly with at camp. We all went up together. At the glacier Alex joined Vicky and Fernando’s rope, while I went solo since there was little danger of cravasses across the path of travel.

We eventually summited and promptly headed down. We met Skyler, the VOCer who was on his way up to Ranrapalca – a highly technical mixed climb, requiring rock protection as well as ice protection. His pack looked huge.

I slept most of the day and had some soup. I figure my stomach must have shrunk, since I felt like I was going to explode after it.


Day 24 – Sick day

I woke up this morning around 6am and was relieved for the night to be over. I was feeling a bit better than the day before. I still didn’t have an appetite, but I wasn’t going to vomit.

By 9am I decided that I should probably eat, since I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours. I kept down a breakfast of oatmeal and also took some medication, cipro, for the diarhea. We went into the refugio to see what it was like, journal, and read the climbing magazines in the refugio library.

I rested most of the day, but wasn’t able to eat anything apart from breakfast. Tomorrow we would be climbing Ishinca.

Day 23 – Climb Urus

We woke up to slightly overcast skies with half a moon for light. Alex hadn’t slept well, so we went at a relaxed pace. The trail goes for about two hours up to a morraine, crosses a boulder/slab field, and then reaches the glacier. Alex initially wanted to rope up, but we decided against it since the route over the glacier was neither cravassed nor difficult.

We reached the summit, took some photos, ate, and napped for a bit. We spent 45 minutes on the summit before descending. Since we had seen glascade tracks on the way up, we decided to take off our crampons and glacier/butt-slide/self-arrest back down to the rocks. It was good fun! We took the more direct route back to base camp, which is a steep and eroded path from everyone sliding down the dirt/scree with their boots. Round trip time – 7 hours.

Back at camp I found that I had very little appetite, which is unusual for me. Things gradually deteriorated until I was with diarhea and vommiting, showing the same symptoms as Alex had at Laguna Cullicocha.I laid around for the remainder of the day, not feeling so hot.

It was a very long night for me – I tossed and turned, not being able to sleep. When I thought the night must almost be over, I looked at my watch and saw that it was 11:30pm. It drizzled the whole night, so we had to sleep with the tent door closed. The interior of the tent got pretty wet with condensation from our breathing

Day 22 – Ishinca Valley

We set off from Caroline’s to the collectivo station, making sure to pick up some empanadas on the way for breakfast. The hike in towards the Ishinca Valley starts at Pashpa, but we couldn’t find a collectivo headed there. Instead, we caught a collectivo headed to Tarica, S2 ($0.67), and would look for a taxi once there.

A note on bags on collectivos. Some collectivos have roof racks, plenty big enough for expedition-sized packs. However, some don’t, so it can be a pain trying to transport packs. When we went to the Llanganuco Valley, our packs took up a seat, so we were charged an additional fare. On the collectivo to Tarica the driver tried to charge us for the bags, but I made sure that they didn’t take up a seat so we wouldn’t be charged. This made the driver a bit mad. Everyone else on the collectivo (Ketchua/Peruvian women) seemed to be on our side and said that bags shouldn’t cost extra.

The collectivo pulled over just after a road marked to the Ishinca Valley. The door-boy opened the door and said that this was our stop. But all at once all the Peruvian women began shouting at the driver. It took me a few seconds to realize that the women were shouting at the driver that this was not the right stop for us and that he should take us all the way to Tarica. Indeed, we were able to catch a taxi from Tarica, but we would have had to walk for hours extra if we had just been let off at the start of the road to the Ishinca Valley.

In Tarica a taxi was agreed upon for S20 to Pashpa. Like normal, it was a windy dirt road that climbed significantly in elevation. I made sure to check the GPS to see that the driver was actually driving us all the way to Pashpa. There is another small town called Collon before Pashpa, but getting off there would have added an extra 45 minutes of walking with our big packs. It turns out that the actual spot where people get off for the Ishinca Valley is even past Pashpa, called Laguna Cochopampa. Getting off there would have save an addition 45 minutes of walking.

I spoke to an arriero (donkey driver) for the first hour or two of the hike. He was following the same trail back to his farm. Once within sight of his farm, he remarked proudly that we could see his donkeys and bull.

Total time from Pashpa to base camp was about six hours. There were quite a few people on the trail and at one point there was a hold up because a donkeyhad fallen/gone off the trail. Camp set up, dinner made, and we were off to bed, ready for a 4am wake-up.

June 22nd

Just doing a quick update as we head out to confirm our plan. 6-7 days to the Ishinca Valley to climb Urus, Ishinca, and Toclaraju. Back in a week!