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MOUNT TOCLLARAJU DIRECT WEST FACE CLIMB (PERU)
TRIP REPORT BY ERIC ALBINO AND OCTAVIO SALAZAR
We’re two young guys full of mountaineering spirit, and we’re glad to share with you our adventure on the Direct West route of the mountTocllaraju. Octavio Salazar Obregon, 21 years old and Eric Albino Lliuya, 24 years old, both from Huaraz, Peru, aspirants to official mountain guides and currently attending our studies at Centro de Estudios de Alta Montaña – our school of mountain guides.
An adventure in the mountains of Cordillera Blanca:
We’re two boys who are still learning and acquiring experience to be able to lead people and take care of human lives in the mountains. Why the idea to climb the Tocllaraju? It occurred while we were watching some pictures from our Photo album of Cordillera Blanca and we’ve decided ourselves for Tocllaraju. Our idea was to choose a route which doesn’t represent obvious dangers and risks, such as avalanches o rock falls, although nothing is safe in the mountains and one never knows when and where the things happen!
The next expedition in our list is to the South face of Ranrapalca Mountain (6162 m/ 20211 ft), which is a pretty nice wall, where we’d like to test ourselves. But given that the climate conditions are very important in this kind of climbs, because all of our mountains are technically challenging and indeed have a big deal of risk, we’ll leave it until the weather allows us our next adventure. In the future we’re planning to organise more technical climbs and expeditions to the mountains of Cordillera Blanca, Huayhuash and outside of Peru: in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Our goal is to get more experience on big walls, and this time we were quite successful and happy with our climb, because we’ve had a great adventure and finally could step on the summit of our dreams – Tocllaraju!
Brief introduction to the climate in the Andes.
The tropical character of the Peruvian Andes, resulting from its location close to the Equator, explains the existence, along the year, of two well marked climate seasons: dry and wet, each with drastic differences and just short intermediate periods. Because of its location in the Southern hemisphere, Peruvian winter occurs when Europe and Northern America are in summer.
May to September
This is the only period when climbing in the mountains is recommended. This is the dry season that coincides with winter and presents, because of the close location to Equator, between 30 and 50 minutes of daylight less every day. On the heights over 4500m/14760ft frosts are common. July is the best month, because in August strong northern winds begin to blow.
September to December
Season suitable for climbing to some lower mountains and for trekking. Corresponds to the spring in the Southern hemisphere. Rains, result from clouds formed during the mornings, are more and more common, with strong sudden rain showers especially in the afternoon. Electric storms are also possible, but the skies get clear soon and the nights are clear and starry.
Tour Schedule: August 31, 2008.
Our adventure has started from our beautiful and noble hometown of Huaraz, situated on 3100 m / 10168 ft of altitude. We’ve left in the morning, exactly at 9:30am, and drove by our private transport towards the tiny village of Pashpa on 3650m/ 11972 ft where our donkey guide is waiting for us. It took to our taxi around 1 hour to get us there, and from here the adventure starts! At 10:50am we’ve started our hike towards the Ishinka valley in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca. At 13:10 we were already in the Ishinca base camp situated on 4350m/ 14268 ft.
After arriving at 13:10pm to the Ishinca Base Camp, we’ve taken some time to relax, to rest and eat something. After all, we were not going too fast, because it wasn’t a competition and we didn’t look for a record : - ). At 14:00pm we’ve continued our hike towards the high camp of the Mount Tocllaraju.
We’ve reached the High Camp of Tocllaraju at 16:30 after having ported all our technical climbing and camping equipment and food supplies. The altitude here is 5250m / 17220ft. In the afternoon we've checked the route that we were planning to climb next day very early in the morning.
September 01, 2008:
We woke up early in the morning, at 03:30am, prepared a light breakfast and got ready all our climbing equipment. At 4:30am we left the tent and headed directly to the West wall of the mountain. It was already 06:00am, when we started to climb our first section of 60 meters of rope. The weather was almost perfect and the ice conditions at this stage were optimal. The slopes were not steeper than 60 degrees, and the snow was pretty compacted. After 4 sections of 60 meters we’ve found ourselves on a section of hard ice, which required from our side more concentration and attention to the security. So, we’ve enjoyed this first part of the climb very much! Three ropes more on this kind of ice and the terrain has changed again: now, along the two next ropes, the snow was pretty loose and the slopes steeper, up to 80 degrees. We also turned a bit to the right to avoid some seracs and cornices on the way. The most technical terrain included the three last ropes almost close to the summit.
After all, we’ve spent 8 hours climbing on the wall; we felt us relaxed and confident with the terrain and ourselves and especially enjoyed those more challenging sections with steeper slopes, like those before the summit. We used two 60m ropes, 9 ice screws, 2 snow pickets and much enthusiasm! Already on the top, around 14:00pm, we gave each other a hug and took as much pictures as possible : - ) Now our way back was waiting for us; given that the normal route of Tocllaraju is not a technical climb we took this way to get back to the camp. After packing all our equipment in our rucksacks we returned to Huaraz the same afternoon – to be honest we were very tired, but it was worthwhile! Our expedition required only two days and one night. (Wrote by Eric Albino & Octavio Salazar, All Rights Reserved CEAM 2008).
We are very grateful with our parents for their help, support, comprehension and aims, also we want to thank the Agency & Tour Operator of Juventino Albino “Peru Expeditions/ South America Climbing” ( www.southamericaclimbing.com ). Also many thanks to Eloy Salazar, mountain guide, for his support and to Alex – our express taxi driver for his valuable help. We also say “thank you” to all our friends around the world for giving us their support and aims. To Sun and Snow Expeditions (http://andeanchallenge.com/en/news.php) for the edition of texts. And especially to our beloved PERUVIAN MOUNTAINS...
more info: Eric Albino Lliuya .
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