Early season climb of Tocllaraju

Early season climb of Tocllaraju

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 3, 2018
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring

Early season ascent of NW Ridge 

From Ishinca Valley Base Camp, we moved to High Camp at 5200m. Due to early season conditions, the snow was very deep, and at times we punched through to our waists. 

Leaving the next morning, we reached the summit pyramid via NW Ridge in good time with no setbacks, but discovered the bergschrund to be in completely terrible condition. Every "bridge" turned out to be sugary snow flutes that collapsed as soon as you breathed on them, and the lip of the schrund where we were standing would keep breaking away, widening the gap. After deeming it impassable, we were finally able to cross it thanks to my partner sheepishly giving me a boost. We may or may not have glanced over our shoulders to make sure no one was watching. 

On the second pitch, we spent some time trying to determine the best route up. Just under the roof we found good 80 degree ice and I was able to place bomber screws, save for the last 3 vertical meters that was guarded by more of the sugary, rotten snow flutes. I lead and was unable to hack any steps or path through the deep early season snow. A tool placement gave out and I took a good whipper, blowing out a screw. Thankfully the others held. My partner went next and ate the same slice of humble pie. After taking a breather, I was able to scramble up and over the soft vert wall on the second attempt. We weren't aware that the summit ridge was as corniced as it was, and walking to the true summit my axe punched through the cornices and into thin air a couple times. 

We knew we were climbing very early, but did not expect the summit pyramid to be as difficult as it was. In my opinion, the first bergschrund may present more options to cross as the season progresses and the snow flutes melt away or break off, but the condition of the 'schrund appears to be rapidly declining. The summit roof and the short vertical wall I expect to improve later in the season as well.  A difficult but rewarding and scenic climb! Our first 6000m summit in the Andes. 

Tocllaraju Summit
Corniced AF


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