We climbed Pucaccacca today; it was one of my best climbs ever.. It is possible that our ascent of the peak was only the second one; the first being in 2013. By Peru standards, the mountain isn't that high (16,644 feet/5073 meters), but it is the hardest peak yet that we have done in the Andes, even though we have climbed a lot of higher peaks.
Kimberly and Shaylee took a rest day at the hot springs, while Kessler, Marcelino, Diogenes, and I climbed the peak. From far below, I spied the cairn on top and wanted to give the peak a try since the girls wanted a rest day at the hot springs on day 6 of our trek. We didn't bring rock climbing gear, but used a 30 foot section of climbing rope that had been brought to tie the camping gear down to the donkeys on the trek.
We checked out the 2013 (first ascent?) route, but I didn't like the looks of it and suggested that we check out an exposed ledge crossing out onto the vast north face. We followed the exposed ledge and found a series of gullies and faces that allowed us to reach the summit.
From a technical standpoint, the pitches weren't that difficult (5.5), but some parts of the route were really exposed, with 2000+ foot (600 meter) voids yawning below. The crux up top involved a short, but scary knife edge, where you had to grab the top of the knife edge and scoot along, but with 2600 foot/800 meter drops on either side. I was ready to turn around here, but since the other three completed the knife edge, I did as well. The summit was surprisingly roomy.
The climb was a bit scary at times, but a good one and one that we won't be forgetting.