An attempt on Ampato

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An attempt on Ampato
Created On: Oct 18, 2011
Last Edited On: Oct 18, 2011

The beginning

Ampato, Sabancaya and Hualca HualcaAmpato, Sabancaya and Hualca Hualca from the plane to Arequipa
Apart from Misti and Chachani, the volcanoes in the south of Peru are not climbed very often. I didn't want to try the highest ones, like Ampato, alone, so I left word in Arequipa that I was interested and looking for other climbers.
Nevado Huarancante and Nevado Chucura from the Mirador de los volcanosEvery tourist bus stops at the highest point along the road between Arequipa and Chivay, the Mirador de los volcanos. This viewpoint is almost 4900m high, and from here you can see volcanos nearby and far in the distance. Most people first look at the big mountains of Ampato, Sabancaya and Hualca Hualca, which are about 30km west of here. Hardly anybody looks east, where you have these two. To the left is Nevado Huarancante (±5430m) and on the right is Nevado Chucura (±5260m). I sure did look, because I had climbed both of them them yesterday!

While waiting for a response, I went out and explored some slightly lower peaks, without glaciers. When I got back from a four day trip and popped in the office of one of the agencies late in the afternoon, someone had showed up, and she wanted to climb Ampato - starting tomorrow. And so, without rest, we headed out the next day, with our guide Ivan.

Failure

Ampato, Sabancaya and Hualca Hualca from Mirador de los VolcanosAmpato (6288m), Sabancaya(5976m) and Hualca Hualca (6025m) from Mirador de los Volcanos
The first day was simply driving. First north along the excellent road to Chivay, but then a few hours more over dirt roads to Ampato base camp at 5100m or so. Yes, that's right, you can drive all the way to camp!
That was a good thing, because that meant I had a rest day after all.

The second day we got up real early and headed up the mountain. Unfortunately, we didn't make it: high on the eastern slopes, yet still below the large summit plateau, we had to turn back because of avalanche risk. The snow didn't seem all that dangerous, but we heard it crack and stopped immediately. We tried another route, but another crack and called it a day. Who would have guessed that avalanches were possible in this region, at this time of year. This is not normal!
The eastern slopes of AmpatoThe eastern slopes of Ampato






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