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Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Regional discussion and conditions reports for South America. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the South American Climbing Partners section.
 

Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby rgg » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:37 am

Today I'm recovering from 7 days of hiking and climbing in the Cordillera Blanca, just NE and E of Huaraz, and I only had one day of marginal weather. Apart from that, sunshine every day, with almost invariably cloud buildup around the higher peaks during the day.

During this period, I climbed Vallanuraju, Maparaju and Huapi. Conditions on Vallanuraju and Maparaju were excellent. Hard snow early on, only a rather thin top layer getting softer by noon. However, on the SE side of Huapi I encountered deep powdery snow, which slowed me down tremendously. I still don´t understand how such loose powder manages to cling to such a steep slope, but it did. After a very slow traverse to a more S-facing part of the slope, I found slightly more consistent snow conditions and managed to get higher. In all, it took me three hours to get to the summit from my high camp, instead of the one hour I had expected.

I heard that Huascaran is expected to be in good shape by July, so I´ll definitely want to have a go at it - in fact, I want to climb both Sur and Norte. Anybody else with plans in this direction? I´m thinking the second half of July.
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby kevin trieu » Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:05 pm

Hey Rob,

My friends and I just got back from 8 days in the Pisco area. We did Pisco, attempted Huondoy West and Chopicaqui. There's much rock/serac fall approaching Houndoy from Pisco moraine camp so we bailed on that climb. Snow conditions above 18k' on Chopicaqui was not good so we bailed at around 20k', maybe an hour from the summit. We are resting for the next few days before heading up Huascaran.
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby rgg » Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:43 pm

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the update. At some point I plan to go to Pisco, and I also hope to have a go Chopicalqui, but both will probably not happen until well into July. Got some other plans first. I hope that conditions on Chopi are better by then. Do you think snow shoes would have helped? I certainly could have used them on the SE face of Huapi ...

Good luck on Huascaran,
saludos, Rob
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby rgg » Sun Jul 03, 2011 12:06 am

Last monday we left for a 6-day foray into the Ishinca valley.

Monday, June 27 was beautiful weather initially, until half way in the afternoon, when we still had about an hour to go to the refuge-and-camping-area at the end of the valley. Rather quickly the clouds built up and it started hailing very lightly. No need to put on the rain gear. We decided to stay in the refuge, which turned out to be a good choice since the weather didn´t improve, and there was more rain later in the afternoon and evening.

Tuesday morning saw the cloud level pretty low, well below 5000m. We waited, and eventually headed out just past 9 am in the direction of Urus Este. At first, I thought we would just be hiking a bit, then return, but after 10, the sun got strong enough and the clouds started to dissolve. We got to the summit in great weather, which would stay with us for the next three days. We put this to good use and climbed Tocllaraju.
Only today was pretty poor mountaineering weather, as the weather forecast had predicted by the way. When we got out of bed, just after 7, there was about 1 cm of fresh snow outside the refuge, and it rained. No problem for us, as we only wanted to hike out, but ascending mountains today was not on. By 10, the rain had stopped and you could climb an easy one, but there would be no views. Climbing might be dangerous with the new snow. I don´t know how much has been dropped higher up, but old trails will be harder to see, if at all, and rock approaches like on Tocclaraju or Urus Este will be slippery and treacherous.
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby kevin trieu » Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:42 am

Just got back from Huscaran Sur earlier this evening. Good conditions and crevasses are not open yet. This latest storm will probably clear all tracks from my team to the summit.
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby mjp20k » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:01 pm

Guys,

Thanks for the beta on Tocllaraju and Chopicalqui. I'm planning on climbing Chopicalqui in the four-day August 8-11 period and I'm looking for additional partners to join me. Just as an FYI: I'm using a guide service (Skyline Adventures) and I'm looking to reduce the per-person rate. I've used them before and I can highly recommend them.

Please contact me if you're interested.

Matt
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby kevin trieu » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:21 pm

anybody been to the Alpamayo area recently and can report on the conditions? Specifically on the condition of the 'shrund. Thanks. Word on the street is that the guide services are bring a ladder up...
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby rgg » Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:44 pm

The last couple of days, the weather in Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca has been somewhat unruly.

In Huaraz, generally, in the morning, the sun was shining and there were mostly only a few clouds. During the day, the clouds would build up and sometimes bring a little bit of rain. Nothing serious.
Higher up in the mountains, the clouds would often cover the higher peaks well before noon, and there were pretty strong winds. Almost, but not quite strong enough to make ascents impossible, but strong enough to make you feel pretty cold. On the 12th of July we tried Huascaran Sur, and the windchill was bearable, but the clouds covering the upper part of the mountain forced us to abort our attempt. The next few days however, the summit was clear early in the morning, so from the 13th up until today visibility would not be a problem. The clouds blowing over the summit seemed to move pretty fast though ...

I heard of and talked to several parties who tried climbing The Shield in the last week and a half, and none even got started. On the left, part of The Shield is gone and there is a serac hanging above it. Too dangerous. In the middle, the ice is extremely hard. On the right, the best option, a big bergschrund is a big problem in even getting to The Shield.

In the southern parts of the Cordillera Blanca, there were a few serious electrical storms a few days ago, including hail and serious rain. Of course, higher up that means snow.

Tomorrow I'm heading out again for a couple of days. Haven't yet checked the weather forecast, partly because it has shown to be correct only part of the time anyway, but mostly because I've had enough rest the last few days and want to go out again. I just hope that the weather is good enough. Besides, we're aiming for a small peak of just over 5700m, and when the high peaks are in clouds, the lower ones can often still be climbed. I'll report back later ...
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby rgg » Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:45 am

The weather continued to be a little bit less than ideal the last few days. High up (around 4600m) in the Quebrada Rurec, in the south of the range, we had some very light snow late in the evening and night yesterday, resulting in 2cm of fresh snow this morning. The days before, by the end of the afternoon the clouds closed in and we had some very small drizzles.

The drizzles didn´t bother us, but the lack of visibility was less comforting. Best to start early - however, we couldn´t do that for two reasons: Early in the morning there were clouds covering the upper parts of the mountains every day, which would dissolve in the hours after sunrise (only to return a few hours later on some days), plus we were climbing a mountain that´s rarely climbed, so we wanted daylight to find the best route up.

I´ve looked at the forecast just now, and things are looking up. Lot´s of sunshine, very little rain, at least for the first few days that we´ll be in the mountains. I hope that that forecast is correct, as we´ll be heading north the day after tomorrow. I´ve heard that Artesonraju is in fine shape and I would love to climb it!
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby Boleslav » Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:36 pm

RGG are you climbing with a partner or an agency? If agency would you recommend them?
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby rgg » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:14 pm

Boleslav wrote:RGG are you climbing with a partner or an agency? If agency would you recommend them?


So far, I´ve used an agency once, Galaxia to be precise. When I do want an agency again, I plan to use them again, but I´m also considering hiring a guide and porter directly. I know a few good guides now, so I can cut out the middle man.

However, mostly I either climb with other climbers that happen to be in Huaraz looking for a partner (some find me through SP, others because I put up a few messages on local message boards (the old fashioned physical ones)), or I climb solo.
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby boisedoc » Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:35 pm

not sure if anyone else is heading down to the Blanca this year, but I spent last week trekking in the Huayhuash and this week climbing Pisco and Vallunaraju. Overall, with the notable exception of yesterday, the weather has been very stable the last 14 days. Only a few afternoon clouds and light winds. The conditions on the Vallunaraju and Pisco glaciers are very good for climbing (although apparantly a group got lost in a whiteout on Pisco yesterday and did not summit- I am not sure that anyone uses wands or GPS units around here).
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby saintlade » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:09 pm

Hey guys, was up on Pisco on the 11th, didn´t summit as my partner was ill but hung around for a few days and weather was generally fine, lot´s of people summitted by the sounds of it. Heading back up there again to get acclimatized, possibly going to have a peek at Yannapacha as well.

Top of my ticklist though is Chopicalqui, any recent news? Would consider hooking up with another person or a pair to increase numbers on the rope team if anybody´s thinking of heading up there?

Also would really like to take my partner up Alpamayo, I did the French Route last time I was here so was hoping to have a go at the Ferrari route, anybody know what state it´s in/looks like? Has anybody actually climbed this in a while, it´s still in the 2010 updated Brad Johnson guide so am guessing people are thinking it´s safe enough to travel again? Or just laziness on the publishers?

Quiteraju and Artesonraju are also near the top of the list but will have to see how things go, any advice would be muchly appreciated.

Will report back with how Pisco and possibly Yannapacha go.
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby rgg » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:49 pm

saintlade wrote:Top of my ticklist though is Chopicalqui, any recent news? Would consider hooking up with another person or a pair to increase numbers on the rope team if anybody´s thinking of heading up there?


We just got back to Huaraz earlier today, Friday the 19th, after climbing Chopi yesterday. The weather was excellent up to about 3 in the afternoon, when it started drizzling really lightly. I heard that it rained in Huaraz too. More to the point however is the route, and it was as clear as a highway all the way to the summit from all the climbers that have climbed it recently. Starting at around 5500m or so, there are some route markers at well, but if the trail of footprints is still clear, you won´t need them.
Technically, I would rate the route AD right now, and all that is because of the last 300m or so. There were a couple of steep pitches in that part, but I estimate nothing more than about 50 degrees. There were snow stakes in place on the steepest parts, four stakes in total. With two 60 m ropes you can rappel all of them easily. We went light and only carried one 50 m rope, which was good enough for all but one of the steep pitches, but the lowest bit wasn't all that steep anyway - you could walk down instead of down climbing it. However, only one rope meant that one of us had to down climb everything.

As for route finding, about 100m above the usual glacier camp (which is between 5400 and 5450m or so) is a very short steep pitch that may be hard to find if you climb in darkness. So, if you arrive timely, scout that bit on the day before. On our descent, we actually left one snow stake above it as well, so now all the steep sections have one.

We didn't do any scouting, but avoided the problem by not camping at the usual camp, but at 5600m instead. Beautiful camp site there, plenty of room for our two tents (one for us, one for the two porters we had hired - we brought a lot of extra food, so we would have the option to stay there up to four nights if necessary). However, more important than avoiding the route finding problem, it also meant a shorter climb to the summit. We started at 3 am, got on the summit right before 8 and managed to descend all the way back to the road the same day, where we hitched a ride to Yungay. Back within three days, we sure were happy about that! However, without porters to carry two big loads, we couldn't have done it, and after I promised them we were going to pay them for at least five days, they really worked their asses off to help us get up and down fast, to the point that they were looking out for us coming down and had our two cookers already fired up by the time we got back to high camp. In managerial terms, my promise made sure that their goals were aligned with ours. I'm flying home soon and have climbed my last big mountain in Peru, but if I get back, I want to hire those two porters again!

P.S. By the way, if you´re going to spend a night in Yungay, be it before or after the climb, I recommend Hostal Gledel. Although it doesn't say so, you can order a pretty decent meal there too!
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Re: Conditions Cordillera Blanca 2011

Postby Boleslav » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:02 am

RGG- would you mind recommending the guides? We used couple though an agency and were not really thrilled with them.
This would be great for the next years climbing plans.
thank you
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