From Huaraz we took the first colletivo to Olleros (8am) where a donkey driver awaited us with one burro. There are numerous pathways weaving off into the hills, so we were glad to have the burro to lead the way.
The hike is approximately 15km so we were moving for most of the day and finally stopped at a very pleasant grassy camping location, just a short distance to the glacier.
The approach hike was more wild and beautiful than any of the others we have done in the Blanca. Shaqsha is seldom climed, it would seem. Which further adds to its appeal. This is a strinkingly beautiful mountain with no easy way up.
It was difficult to find water high on the plateau. We filtered and boiled water out of puddles, which took some searching to locate.
An energetic party might camp on the south shoulder of the mountain, (another 2 hours hike) which is perfectly level ground and looks onto the face.
There are many ways this mountain can be climbed and our ascent was a continuous re-evaluation of serac barriers and steep ice. Our strategy was to traverse into the West face (from the south shoulder) and the attack a nice direct line to the summit.
Gaping serac barriers forced us more and more around to the north (to climber's left) until we were effectively climbing up an ice ridge. The position on the mountain was "epic" as people say. Very steep in a few places and very delicate to descend.
The mid-day sun warmed the neve and made the last few hours of our descent very difficult as the face ceased to support ice axes and snow stakes.
It was possible to return all the way to Olleros the afternoon, following the climb.
Incidentally, this is the face pictured on the cover of the popular Brad Johnson book.