Icefall detail on Huascarán

On climbing Huascarán, be it Sur or Norte, the most dangerous part of the route is from Campo Uno to Campo Dos, just below the col between the two summits. A very big and wild icefall comes down from the col towards the south west. Being a glacier, conditions change over the years, but from what I've read and heard negotiating this icefall has been dangerous for a long time already.

On a few places, this section of the route is a bit steep, but never seriously so. One ice axe is fine all the way. Falling off can be deadly, so, if you don't trust your ice and snow climbing skills, you have to belay. But that's not what makes it particularly dangerous.

In 2011, the icefall is best negotiated by keeping well to the right of it, ending up south of the col. Basically, that means ascending the lower slopes of Huascaran Sur instead of heading straight for the col, and then doing a long traverse to the col high up on the mountain. There are lots of crevasses all over the place - some big, visible ones, but I also noticed some almost hidden ones. And, naturally, I don't know how many really hidden ones there were. Still, higher up, there are more crevasses both on Norte and Sur.

A big problem is that if there is no previous route to follow, finding one can cost a lot of time. One time when I descended, the trail had been blown away so much, I had to find my own route instead. I couldn't completely remember the route we had ascended only a few days before, but I knew I wasn't going down the same way and I probably lost an hour searching for a safe way down. Fortunately, visibility was excellent, and eventually I saw a couple of tents further down: Campo Uno. That's also when I knew that I had gone too far to the south, but that was no problem - going too far north would have brought me smack into the wildest ice, going too far south only meant a longer route, but not a more difficult one.

However, the biggest problem on the route to the col is something unavoidable: high up, on the traverse, you have to pass two big two avalanche zones. f a big one comes down, you simply don't stand a chance. So, it's imperative to pass those zones quickly.

I took hardly any photos in the danger area. This one is real close to Campo Dos, after passing the second avalanche zone.

10 July 2011.


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rgg - Dec 22, 2011 4:02 am - Hasn't voted

Re: wild photo!

Thanks :-)

Tomek Lodowy

Tomek Lodowy - Dec 22, 2011 10:58 am - Voted 10/10


amazing photo with some fabulous description, great job!

Merry Christmas and Holidays from Poland!

Tomek Lodowy


rgg - Dec 22, 2011 11:12 am - Hasn't voted

Re: gorgeous

Thanks Tomek.

As to that description, I sometimes like to add a bit of information. In this case, I'm working on something, that's why it's perhaps a bit overboard.

Happy holidays from Amsterdam, ciao, Rob

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