Nevado Pisco - our route follows the left hand skyline.
Longer Version - Daniel and I left Huaraz early on Sunday morning. We piled into a collectivo, which is a large minivan, where as many people as possible are crammed inside. An hour and a half later we arrived at Yungay, where we took a second collectivo up to Cebollapampa (3900 m). This is the base camp for the climb and doubles as a mule and cow grazing area.
We spent the morning setting up camp before heading out on a short acclimatization hike to Laguna 69, which is a beautiful lake (4600 m). The altitude got us both there and we headed back down to camp. When attempting to acclimatize, the rule of thumb is to climb high and sleep low, with no more than 1500 ft between camps. We spent the second day resting in he base camp before heading on another hike about 300 m higher.
Here is Daniel looking at Huscaran Sur (left) and Norte (right). Huscaran Sur is the highest mountain in Peru.
On the third day the weather turned cloudy, which was ok because we had to move camp over 700 m higher to the Meadow camp. The camp was relatively nice and we took advantage of the nearby hut to relax in.
On Day 4, we headed up to the top of the moraine as another acclimatization hike.
On Day 5, we were intending to move camp to the moraine camp, but because of the lousy weather, we remained at the meadow camp. We did however hike up to the glacier´s edge (5100 m). That night we met a couple from Italy, Diego and Marta, who we hung out with for the next several days.
We woke on the morning of Day 6 to more clouds. We had no way to know if the cloudy weather would continue so we debated going down or climbing up to the moraine camp. In the end, we decided it would be better for acclimatization to camp at the moraine that night so we set off with Marta and Diego to the moraine.
This is Daniel watching Marta downclimb the loose, loose moraine. Notice the really cloudy weather. We made good time to the moraine camp, where we setup camp, ate, and eventually went to bed doubting weather we would get to climb.
Amazingly all the clouds cleared overnight and we woke at 2 AM to crystal clear skys. We quickly scrambled to the glacier to rope up. There was a large party from Japan, who was moving very slowly, plus they had horrible rope and crampon technique so we wanted to be nowhere near them. We quickly moved ahead and climbed through the night on the West slopes. The route is ranges mostly between 25-35 degrees, with a few sections as steep as 40. As the sun rose, we were treated to spectacular views.
The Huandoy Group
Daniel tops out of the 40 m of 60 degree snow to reach the summit.
Daniel, Diego, and Marta on the summit. It was a treat to have the summit to ourselves.
Marta builds and anchor to bela Diego down the steep snow pitch.
Here things got a little crazy. The Japanese group made it to the summit and were trying to climb the steep pitch at the same time that we were trying to downclimb. Their guides showed no regard for our safety at all. We got down as quickly as possible.
Once past the cluster, we took our time on the descent.
Daniel with Quitaraju (left) and Artesonaraju (right).
We made it down to the moraine camp by 11 AM, packed up and headed down to the meadow camp. There, the Italian couple offered to share their mule with us. Unfortunately the mule didn´t show so we headed down on our own. We ran into the mule driver except he had a horse instead. We loaded up the horse and began the descent to the road. At that point the clouds had moved back in covering all the peaks. Near the road we even heard thunder. Right as we reached the road, a collectivo passed us and stopped. It was going directly to Huaraz!
This was truly a high point in my life both literally (my highest summit) and figurately. Never have I had a climb work out so well in terms of weather, altitude, and snow conditions, plus the views were stunning. I look forward to exploring the Cordillera Blanca further.
I´ll try to post more photos if'when I find a better internet connection.