Friday, July 27, 2012

Ranrapalca - Getting It Done 7-23 to 7-26 2012

Ranrapalca - Getting It Done
July 23rd - July 26th

I was feeling strong after my last climb so I decdied to team up with Adam and 4 bad ass Chileans the climb Ranrapalca.  The mountain is 20,2017 feet and this year has rarely been summited. The route has been climbed many times, but the problem arises after the route is completed.  The traverse to the summit is vey short but covered in waist deep snow which has posed as a problem for almost every other party.  Our plan:  Go fast, go light, go early, blast the summit before sunrise when the snow is still firm.

Day 1:
I backpacked into the refugio, spent the night and met adam around noon.  We hiked up to the high camp.  Our donkeys met us at a higher refugio and ascended to the high camp at over 17,000 feet.  This height was almost the equivilant of the summit of Huamashraju.  Two of the Chilians did not make it up to the high camp because of sickness, but the two others did.  So the plan was two parties of two up the route.
Crossing the snowfield to high camp
The view from our tent at high camp
Super Gringo Food - Ramen
The Climb:
Beep...Beep...Beep.  We woke up at midnight by alarm.  The hadest thing about climbing in the Coridllera is getting out of your sleeping bag.  Water bottles are frozen, condensation all over the tent, there is only one thing to do. Start up the stove and make some SUPER GRINGO RAMEN.  I had some breakfast, we got all set and were ready to take off.  One of the Chileans did not feel well so we joined a rope between three of us.  Adam, Me and Erasmo.  The route posed some navagation difficulties at night but we moved quickly.  We mostly stayed roped up soloing everything but the AI3 in the dark.  We got to the crux rock band just as the sun was peaking over the mountains.
Negiotiating Penitentes
Some Steep WI4/5 that we bipassed with AI3
Adam about to negotiate the AI3
Erasmo looking ready to rock
AI3-Camera is a bit tilted
Belaying the top of the AI3

Off Route on steep snow
The Crux:

Five pitches of mixed climbing lead to the summit ridge.  Adam lead and short fixed these pitchs placing no gear only clipping the anchors.  Ersasmo thought that the belay and rappell anchors were placed by adam but they were actually already there.  He cleaned them all and collected 8 nuts, three dynema slings and a C4 number 1.
Adam Solong some mixed rock
Looking down some of the mixed section
Topping out the ridge
We could not have timed it better.  The sun hit the summit just as we were cresting the ridge. snow as all compact and Adam and I blasted to the top as Erasmo rested and waited.  He had enough.  Adam and I carefully climbed the precarious summit ridge, snapped some shots and jetted down.
The walk to the summit
Bad ass summit ridge
Adam on top
Me on top

Downclimbing the summit

The Rapell: 
70 meter ropes were helpfull here as we did 5 or 6 rapells to the snow, hiked out and did one more rapell.  We were back in camp in 11 hours at noon.  We ate, drank, rested and packed down to the lower hut.

The First Rapell
The First Rapell
Setting up the final Rapell
The Final Rapell
Ranrapalca summit sent - a true gem! The three of us climbed the NE face in under 6 hours with a summit tag at 20,217 feet. It was a truly alpine climb in good style. Camp to camp in under 11 hrs.

When I arrived back in town, I ate some food, jumped into the shower and laid low.  Tony came to me with some bad news.  Gill Weis and Ben Horne (two Americans attempting a new route on the south face of Palcaraju) were five days late and Gil missed his flight.  Adam and I had talked about how we were woried that they hadnt come back to town and we should notify someone.  This was bad news.  I had talked to Gil before he left on his climb and he seeme upbeat and positive.  Adam and I spent the rest of the day coordinating with La Casa de Guias, Gary, Bens Dad and Private search and rescue.  

Please see the thread and send your hopes and prayers: 

The Plan:
Today is the next day and Adam and I spent the day running around town figuring out the logistics of a search.  After speaking with Ted, we decided to aid in the rescue as an independent American climbing team.  We do not want to climb the route because of strong objective hazards but will aid in a glacial search and serve as liasons on the satelite phone if needed to contact family in the states and notify them of the situation.  We will pack into camp with donkeys and mountain bike to base camp.  From there we will asses our need and utility.  Hope for the best but realistically thinking the worst.

Additional News:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Getting High on Huamashraju 7-18 to 7-21-2012

Getting High on Huamashraju
July 18-Jul 21

I spent the night of the 17th dry heaving, unable to eat and with a mild fever.  I went to bed thinking I would not be able to stick with our original plan: a simple walk up Pisco.  I decided to pop a Cipro in the morning and after an hour I was feeling like a million bucks.

Change of Plans:
Cory and Tony had noticed I was not feeling well so they had gone out and gotten smashed that night.  They both woke up with hangovers.  I started talking with two Columbian climbers that I had a met a few days ago and they were attempting a climb up Huamashraju which was 4 pitches of 5.10 rock and steep snow hiking to the top.  I was feeling WAY better and this sounded a lot more fun than just hiking to the top of mountain.  I told Cory and we were super psyched.  Tony had a major hangover and his knee was a little sore, so he sat out on this one.

The Crew:
We linked up with Maria and Katie who were both super strong.  Katie had summited Everest and had climbed several big walls in Yosemite and Maria had an impressive climbing resume as well including attempting Gashburn 1.  They both lived an hour from Columbia and managed a Hostel.  Maria owned a resturannt and Katie guided kids in the mountains.  Not only were they strong climbers, they were a lot of fun to hang around and they ended up turning into good friends.

The Dog:
We took a taxi and arrived in the middle of village.  The girls were able to negotiate with a local Arriero to get a donkey to bring our gear into a base vamp the next day.  We plopped our tents down right where the taxi dropped us off and set up shop.  Immediatly a local dog (who we named Huamash) grew a liking to us and protected us.  He would chase away all other dogs and animals from our area and he ended up falling us the next day to our higher camp and then to the base of the route.  We fed him leftover food. 

The Planned Route and The actual route:
We planned to climb a 4 pitch 5.10 rock route onto steep snow (PD) topping out at over 17,880 feet.  We did not have a topo and could not find the start of the route, so we ended up climbing a variation that was a probably new route on the rock rated 5.8R.  It was 6 pitches of rad discontinues crack systems and face moves leading onto some spectacular sierra equivalent ridge climbing.  We eneded on steep snow and neotiated some small crevasses to the top.

Night 1:
We set down our things into base camp and started to get to know our new climbing partners.  We laughed and joked as they called us gringos.  We taught them how americans dance to Vanilla Ice (the sprinkler, the worm, the shopping cart and booty shake) and they taught us how to salsa dance.  We shared stories of our cultures and played cards inside thier tent.  They introduced us to Purro, which was a Columbian herbal remedy to help you relax.  We laughed and joked until it was time for bed.

Day 1 - The Approach and Bringing gear to the base:
The donkey came at 9am to bring our gear to a high base camp at 15,500 feet.  We followed trails up to camp and setup near a water source.  We boiled water and brought up our packs and climbing gear to the base.  We packed a follower pack with our double boots (6 pounds each pair), axes, crampons and water.  The pack was probably 25 pounds.  We headed back to camp.
Night 2 - Dinner:
Cory and I were expecting to have dehydrated dinners, but Maria and Katie had another idea.  They prepaired us an amazing Fajita dinner and we fueled up for the climb.

Day 2 - The Climb:
Beep...Beep..Beep.  It was 4 am.  The inside of the tent was all frost and Cory and I lay motionless in our sleeping bags.  It was cold...bone chilling cold.  Fuck climbing technical rock in the cold.  We call to the girls - "Trenta Minutas Mas" They respond with a resounding "Yes!"  We left around 5:30 in the morning and made our approach to the base of the route.
We had a big difficulty finding the start of the route, especially since our only beta ws "it's an obvious 5.10 line up the middle of the rock."  We looked up and all we saw were roofs coated in ice, so we opted for a route that took the path of least resistance to a notch.
P1 5.6:  We tried to wait for the sun but had no luck, so shivering in my down jacket with my numb toes in my climbing shoes, I went on my way.  I soloed up an easy crack and tip toed my way over slabs until I felt the end of the rope. I yelled to Cory "begin simul climbing." I had in three pieces of gear.  I needed to find an anchor but I could fin no cracks.  I climbed 10 feet more and found a crack filled with moss.  I used my nut tool to hollow out the moss and threw in two cams and brought Cory up.
P2 5.7:  Cory lead this traversing pitching to a large block out left about 200 feet placing three pieces and ending with a stem past verglass ice onto the block. 
P3 5.7:  I blasted up onto the face and cracks to the notch.  Awesome climbing.  I got in a snowy fist jam down low and placed two pieces of gear 180 feet.

P4 5.6:  Bomber finger crack that was easier than it looked.  Cory lead this pich past the notch and onto the ridge up and right. 180 feet.
P5 5.7:  I did some more ridge climbing.  100 feet.
P6 5.8:  A couple spicey face traverse moves lead up higher 150 feet to an alcove on the ridge.  From here we were able to spot the rapell anchors of the orignial route and changed to our double boots and crampons.
Final Snow PD:  We climbed steep snow and negotiated some minor crevasses at the top to an awesome summit
We packed up from the summit and headed down.  We had to front point a couple sections down the steep snow and we made it to our packs at the rapell.
We found the rapell with our packs hungs and did five double rope rappels straight down to the base and packed out to camp.
This was day in the mountains. Good company, fun climbing and spectacular weather.  There was a first ascent quality of feel to it (which was pretty likely).  We slept in the next day and packed out by noon.  We all met up in town later in the day for a group dinner, six celebratory tequala shots and a farewell to Cory as he boarded his bus back to Lima.  What a good time.

                                               New Route Submission to Casa De Guias:
This was our route submission to Casa De Guias
No records of the route-first ascent in the official books
The book is closed until next time!