iceinperu (iceinperu) wrote,

Chopicalqui Moraine Camp (aka the infirmary at 5000 m)

On Wedensday, Daniel and I headed back to the Llanganuco (where we had climbed Pisco) to make an attempt on Chopicalqui. We headed out with three other climbers we met: J, A, and M. They were interested in sharing a collectivo to the trailhead, which was fine, but they wanted to leave late in the morning. Daniel and I ultimately agreed but we should have gone on our own. Everything is slower with a large group. Ultimately we made it to the trailhead by 12:30 and started our hike to the moraine camp.

The trail starts off ascending through a forest and meadows before you gain the moraine.

Daniel on the moraine of the Kintzl Glacier with Huascaran Sur in the background.

Huascaran Norte

We got to the moraine camp around 5 PM, which did not leave that much time for camp chores such as water gathering, cooking, setting up the tent... (it gets dark here around 6 PM). We should have left Huaraz earlier.

Here I am getting ready to pump water. I had to construct a dam here so a pool would form. The area was safe in the evening, but the next morning this area was a bowling alley with rocks that would fall as the sun hit the high mountain. Once we gathered water we set about cooking dinner. I enjoyed beans and rice, a variation from Freezer Bag Cooking, while Daniel ate Jaegertoph (beef, noodles and mushrooms). During dinner, we had a friendly discussion about who had the better meal.  By morning, I think it was clear whose was better.  By 9 PM we were settled in our sleeping bags for the night. Or so I thought...

Around 10 PM, Daniel bolted out of the tent, and I heard the sounds of vomitting nearby. Apparently the Jaegertoph did not agree with his stomach. As a result, the two of us got very little sleep that night. I lost count of the number of times he left the tent, but he had a very, very unpleasant night. I am extremely grateful that he was speedy each time and there was no mess in the tent.

By 8:30 AM the sun had hit camp, and I ate breakfast, while Daniel managed to hold down some tea. Daniel hadn´t slept at all, plus he was feeling weak and worried that the vomitting might return. He was definitely going down to Huaraz. Other than being tired, I felt fine. I could go up. We talked with others in the camp: J hadn´t slept much, A had diarrea, and M had a cough that may have been part of a cold. A and M decided to wait a day at 5000 m to see if they could recover enough to climb. Your body is already taxed at 5000 m, healing takes a lot longer there so I was not optimistic. J was planning to go up with a group of four from France, who also had a sick climber. This camp had turned into a hospital ward of sorts. No one was moving out of camp to the high camp with any sense of urgency and I was not optimistic about the other climbers´ health, so I decided to descend with Daniel.

I loaded up my pack with extra gear to lighten the load for Daniel, who was feeling understandably weak due to lack of food and sleep, and down we went. About a third of the way down, we ran into a porter who offered to carry down Daniel´s pack (for a fee of course), which helped quite a bit. Daniel then took some of the gear I was carrying and down we went. There was a cab waiting at the trailhead, so after I negociated the price down, we were off to Huaraz. In Yungay, the cab driver explained that there was a problem with the wheels wobbling. He helped us get a collectivo back to Huaraz.

When we got back, there was a massive stage set up in the center of town, and around 7 PM the singing started. Not good singing either, and this being Peru, louder is better (sigh). It took a long time, but I fell asleep. Daniel slept through the night and dinner and breakfast have stayed down. We´re going to try to sneak in a two day climb of Yanapaccha before our bus on Tuesday back to Lima. Hopefully, we´ll get a little more climbing in on the ¨climbing¨ part of our trip. In 21 days, I´ve put on my crampons twice.

Oh, by the way, this is Chopicalqui (6354 m):

Our route would have been the beautiful southwest ridge (AD), which follows the skyline from the right side of the photo to the summit.
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