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2005 07 29-01 Chopicalqui

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Chopicalqui, what a way to crown the trip. So we are now acclimatized, and have learned what to take and what not to take. We decided to do this last mountain light-style. We were joined by Christ as his plan had fallen through (the good thing is that he would be carrying the rope, which fitted well with our light-style plan... he is also a nice guy, don't think he came only because of the rope).

Intermission: a funny story about cabs. So there are few private cars in Peru as the import tax is super high and there is a lot of pollution, so anyone who has a car, hires it as a taxi. Additionally, all the non-advertised prices in Peru can be haggled (it is expected). So having not met our reserve for going up to this valley, we took two cabs, one to Yunguay and another from there to the trailhead. The funny thing is that Fernando, the driver who took us to the trailhead, proposed to pick us up. We finally settled on the price of 90 soles and monday 2pm. When we come back, few minutes from the road, we bumped into Jaime, Fernando's brother! we could not make it, so he sent him. I tell him, that Fernando was going to drive us back to Huaraz. He says, sure no problem, that would be 120 soles!. Jaime later tells me that he had not ask his brother how much he was going to charge us... just simply funny (I had him admit to me that that was an stupid idea).

Back to the mountain. The climb is done with two camps. The first camp is nice, because you can find hay to make a nice floor. Oh did I mention, that we used a high-tech tarp as a tent. The ascent to col camp then takes us through the glacier and a bit of a war zone (lose rock coming off the mountain), and thus you understand why Huascaran is a dangerous mountain to climb. Also, Mental note, if you want good water you have to go really, really far. If you want grey tap water-like water, you don't.

At Col camp we camped along two Japanese clients. The look on their guides face when he saw our "tarp" was really funny. He says: "The Bivy sack (chris's), that's good. The funny tarp, don't know". It actually worked fine.

Finally summit day came, or rather summit morning or dawn. Unfortunately, Julia was not feeling well, so she would not join us for the ascent. The climb basically goes up the ridge all the way to the top. It is unrelenting as there are few, very few, flat places to rest, but then again it is not so steep. There are a couple of Berschung crossing which are exciting. We reached the summit in good time and were rewarded to fabuleous views.

On the way down, as I am rappelling after Chris, he says, "hey Hector, see if you see an ice axe in the Crevasse" I was puzzled until he said "I dropped mine there!". Fortunately, he was able to see it and was ready to donate it to the mountain gods, until I said "heck, I go get it for you if you lower me", robert asks "hey do you have the prussiks and stuff to get out"...I waved him off "yeah yeah"... I wasn't planning on ascending up... The lower is all good, we also learn that pickets can hold body weight. Once really inside the crevasse, I can feel closer to Joe Simpson. It is a pretty and scary place in there as the ice blocks are unstable and can break. Having recovered the ice axe, I think of climbing up, but learn about the unstability of ice blocks. Fortunately as in Joe's story, I found an exit to the crevasse where I can more or less walk out. From it, I won a free steak dinner (score!).


  • 29/7 Trailhead-Moraine Camp: 760m elev gain, 4h10
  • 30/7 Moraine-Col Camp: 665m elev gain. 4h40.
  • 31/7 Summit Day: depart 4h45. 635m elev gain. 4h up. 8h roundtrip.


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