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!