July 14-Jul 15
July 9 to July 12:
The idle mind is a devils playground. After I came back to town, I was determined to get acclimatized and get in shape. Thoughts like "I should give up mountaineering" and "I need to sell all of my gear and just rock climb" were soon replaced by "Which mountains should I climb" and "When will Tony and Cory come back so I can get this show started."
I mountain biked through single track trails in the Peruvian Andes, I went for a 45 minute run at 10,000 feet of elevation, I went bouldering high up in a village called Huanchec, hiked up to Churup lake, had dinners at the local Israeli house, read a book (Brave New World) and I waited...Cory and Tony came back on the 12th with some mixed news. Cory had soloed Ranrapalca, Tony wasn't feeling great (had a head cold) and one of my gear bags with about four thousand dollars worth of clothing and other goods was stolen from basecamp. Luckily it was covered by insurance, but it will make the next few weeks here more difficult because I will need to rent or borrow.
Tony had some friends who live in Huaraz, they volunteered to cook us some dinner. We had great food, great conversation and some great Pisco Sours.
July 13th preperation:
We were set for our climb. We intented to climb Mount Churup via the face. It was estimated to be rated D plus and somewhere around M5 and on the climb we ran into some WI3. I still barely know what that last sentence means. We racked up with 6 ice screws, cams from C3 to two inch, 4 snow stakes and some knifeblade pitons. The route is seen on the below photo (courtesy of Hamik).
July 14th approach:
We packed into Laguno Churup and setup camp at the second lake. I was feeling great and was psyched to finally get on some snow-ice-rock in Peru. It had been almost two weeks and I was ready for some action. This peak is not often climbed and has developed a local reputation for epics (see Hamiks trip report http://www.summitpost.org/stuck-on-churup/727562) but we were both pretty psysched and up for the task.
July 14th night:
We were prepairing for bedtime at the second lake at 15,000 feet with the stars above us and nobody in sight, when all of a sudden I saw a headlamp in the distance. I hiked about 15 minutes to investigate and it turned out there were two other parties of two attmepting the route. We discussed and I told them we would leave at 2am and they would leave at 4am and that would give each of us enough distance to climb.
July 15th 2am:
We packed up and headed up the talus slopes to the base of the climb. It was pitch black dark and we were not sure we were going the correct way. We saw a reces in the rock which turned to be water fall ice. Cory decided to give it a go. He lead a sick 180 foot WI3 pitch in pitch dark, obviously unclimed and ended at a ledge with a sketchy 5 piece belay. As I was climbing the pitch, we saw the headlamps of the other party navigate past us on easy talus. We were completly off route. We made an achor and bailed off the pitch leaving a piton and a nut.
We followed the headlamps and soon found the glacier. We roped up and negotiated crevases until we ran into some vertical ice. Cory pitched it out and I regained the sharp end for the crevasse travel. Cory wasnt doing too well. I would hike quickly up steep snow until the rope was taught, wait a few breaths and attempt to hike some more. Cory was falling to the snow every 100 meters to rest and cough. He was not his strong usual self and I had a feeling he did not have enough rest after his last climb. I tried to keep the pace and Cory called to me and told me he could not continue. Without hesitation, I agreed (although the crux was just ahead and I desperatly wanted to get past it) and we decided to bail at 16,600 feet.
We downclmbed the steep snow dodging crevasses and placing a picket every 200 feet for safety.
I came across a snowbridge covering a huge crevasse on the way down. I tried to cross it but I immediatly punched through it butt deep. I somehow intinctivly got my body to the other side and yelled at Cory to put me on an immediate belay. I continued down past another snow bridge and took a large step over a second crevasee.
We prepped a Vthread on the Ice and a double rope rapell to bail. We rappelled down to the snow and hiked out.
Back To Camp:We got back to camp, ate some food, relaxed at the lake and then hiked back out to town.
It is all about the journey and not the destination but I am anxious to top out some Mountain in Peru. The other two parties had to bail higher on the route because of unconsolidated snow and loose rock. I talked with Cory and we are set to attempt Pisco in two days. This is an easy glaciated 18,000 foot peak that would give us the greatest likelyhood of summiting (although my stomach is still upset). We took it easy today, went into some thermal caves and caught up on some much needed rest.