We caught a window of flawless weather for the final ascent - we had had some freezing rain/ice pellets at base camp two nights earlier. After spending a night at base camp, we moved to the high camp, climbing the rather challenging "canaleta". It took us some 4 hours from base camp to high camp. The next morning, we set forth at 1:45 AM. Windless, clear, and mild night. Made it to the top at around 8:15 AM. Some sections (one in particular ~60m) are pretty steep and require you to use the points of your crampons and your axe. We rapped one of those on the way back. Other than that, you need to stay clear of crevasses and avalanche areas. Incredible views from the top - even Huascaran looked approachable from up there.
We made an attempt in August 2002. We used the then glaciated couloir to the right on the way up, 50 degrees to gain the glacier. There, we got some bad weather, but we had a planned camp, and decided to just wait it out. In the evening of the next day, it cleared a bit, so we had a brief view of the entire west slope, but decided it was much too crevassed for a reasonable approach, so we decided to take the steeper route up just beside the cliff. Negotiating the crevasses there was reasonable, but it took time, and when we gained the ridge, the fog came creeping, so we had 50 meters of visibility. We got to 6050 meters before calling it off and descended the same way to camp. The next day, we descended the talus field to basecamp. The weather wasn't on our side either, I don't think I ever saw the summit in the many days we were on the mountain.
Like others have pointed out, it was harder than the guide books made it appear, and I'm sure climate change makes it gradually harder year by year.
Copa has the reputation of an easy peak. We almost got caught in this mindset,too, and wanted to leave most of our technical climbing gear in Huaraz. Fortunately, I read in a forum post that they encountered 70 degree ice, so we decided to take more gear.
First, I recommend to take a donkey driver, because many people get lost at the tree plantation and don't find the trail leading up to base camp. Sabino Tafur did a great job!
Second, despite asking at casa de guias for recent conditions (they said 45 degrees max, and all snow no ice)we were happy to be better prepared. You have to climb up a couloir to gain the glacier. In the beginning is a short water ice section (WI 2-3), we belayed this part and used 2 ice screws. This is followed by a gentle to moderately steep snow section increasing in steepness towards the top. We simul-climbed this part using snow pickets. At the top, the snow transitions into rock-hard ice with a steepness of 60- 70 degrees before it flattens out to the glacier. We belayed this part and used the 2 ice screws we brought - without them it would have been quite scary. The ice up there was so hard that my (sharpened) older-vintage crampons wouldn't bite, although they were just fine for Alpamayo.
We had 2 ice screws, 2 snow pickets, a 70 m rope, and 2 technical ice tools each - which was the minimum equipment to do this couloir to access the glacier - unless you feel comfortable free-soloing it.
The glacier itself is gently-sloped, few open crevasses deserving the 'easy reputation'. We used a trekking pole in combo with an ice tool up there, since it's not steep enough to make use of your ice tool as support.
Unfortunately theft has been a problem for a while. When I was on Olcshapalca, the ownernofnthe Thai place I think you spell his name Nareswan) had all of his gear stolen, so he was bailing.
We turned around at 17,500 because of illness and weather. The glacier has receded so the approach involves a lot of talus, a bit of rock-climbing, a bit of water ice and some 70 degree snow. Once on the ridge, it's easy going but watch out for massive cornices.
We had been warned that our camp might be robbed and it was. We hid all our gear but left some food stashed in plain sight and somebody took a bunch of it. Pretty sad. Next time, we'll probably hire a camp guardian.
Sorry that you had issues. Outside of the wind and the cravasses we found it easy (PD+ish) and straight forward. Cravasses were the biggest issue and trying to find a way through them . On the ascent we traversed way to the left as we first got onto the plateau before cutting back an to establish a camp and then traversed right then angled up as we were ascending. On the des cent we went straight down and found a cravasse field from hell.
With my friend Pau I tried this pic before Huascaran. We climbed since camp 1 5200 meters, and I decide go down because there are many dangerous crevasses and it wasn't open path.Two weeks before another expedition tried to climb it and one expeditioner died.
Despite there are a lot of information that says Copa is an easy pic, All people we had gone there I'm sure think this information is wrong.
Get information before go to this peak and good luck! I know other people who they have tried Copa, and nobody obtain the summit.