We set out to climb Huascaran South via the Garganta route in mid September 2008. From Huaraz to Musho we travelled first by collectivo combi and then by colletivo taxi from Caraz (with a family of five in the boot of the car with our gear).
In Musho it was possible to find donkey drivers, and we located one within about one hour. This is a bit of a disappointment however. The donkeys took our gear and us up to the first camp site in about three hours, from where we then proceeded another two hours over slabby rock to the cabin. Two days later we descended on a very nice footpath that never touched the cliffs, and we wondered why the slabby route was ever suggested (??)
It is nice to kip the night in the cabin, however we did recognise that the location of our next camp was only about two hours further on, at a plateau in the glacier up above. This meant that the second day, we reached our first camp before lunch and had a very long afternoon of reading in the tent and making tea.
The day from camp 1 to camp 2 in the col at 6000m is a fairly big day. If conditions are firm and some tracks are apparent in the snow, then some parties would probably breeze through in about six hours. We saw no clues as to a route through the labyrinth of crevasses, so it was a bit slow. You will get a sense of this in the video above.
In the candaleta section we placed a few screws to keep things safe. It could be delicate climbing through this with only one axe. We had one axe each, plus an extra to pass down the line as each one reached the steep ice pitch. Past the candaleta, there is no more need for a second axe.
After all this work of steep gains, it was then necessary to descend steeply under the gaping Garganta and its chaos of serac and avalanche debris. Not a place to lounge about.
Once we set off to regain ground to the col, it became evident that a series of broad (very broad) crevasse barriers would need passing. Our solution proved quick and successful-- we walked way off to the north where a number of snow bridges allowed us to pass.
Upon the col, a previous group had flagged their route through the crevasses, presumably for the return. At this stage it was very useful to inspect the upper face and estimate a route plan for the dark hours of the following morning.
As night fell, temperatures dropped bitterly cold and we had a fairly brutal experience of melting snow, feeding ourselves and keeping comfortable in -18 degrees celcius.
Overnight about one foot of snow fell. The ascent towards the south summit was un-nerving and in the steep initial slopes we turned back.
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