| Climbing in the High Andes of Peru
Artesonraju (6,025m/19,767ft) - North Ridge (D): July 3rd-11th
Huascaran Sur (6,768m/22,205ft) - Garganta Route (AD-): July 13th-18th
Alpamayo (5,947m/19,511ft) - French Direct (AD+): July 19th-23rd
***EDIT: I Will add photos and some more detail for those not wanting to leave this site.
Six weeks after Liam, Peter and I parted ways in Alaska; we met up in Lima, Peru. The goal was to stand on top of a few technical 6000m peaks. Peru had always been the main plan for the summer; Alaska was more of an afterthought. As I boarded the plane in Denver I was extremely excited to travel for a full month down to South America, hopefully having plenty of time to climb and less time spent sitting in a tent.
This year, I was able to swing two expeditions…in one summer, now that is the bee’s knees. I feel incredibly lucky to have regular partners for big mountains, partners who always want to travel, climb harder routes on bigger peaks, and to do it in as pure a style as possible. The journey was as good as the climbs themselves, and with 3 people of similar interest, ability and risk tolerance, we were able to achieve all of our goals, and then some. Peru is an incredible place and this expedition was one that I will not soon forget.
Our main goal was Artesonraju (6,025m/19,767ft), a well-known difficult peak that just reaches the 6,000m mark. We chose the North Ridge instantly when we saw the route description in the book, it just jumped off the page. It was aesthetic, historic, challenging and promised isolation. A complex glacier would lead to a steep couloir and then a corniced summit ridge. We figured we would acclimate on the peak instead of doing a separate climb. Peter and I knew we had a lot of work ahead if one of us was going to lead this route and we spent a lot of the winter on ice. Our determination paid off big time, on July 9th we reached the summit.
Next we wanted to climb as high as we could, which made the choice obvious. At 22,205ft, Huascaran Sur is the tallest peak in Peru and in all of the Earth’s tropics. It is the highest peak in South America that is fully glaciated and its summit is more elusive than the 5 peaks taller than it. The route is well known for its objective hazard but it is not that difficult technically. Since we were acclimated from Artesonraju, we decided to attempt to climb Huascaran in Alpine Style over 4 days. The objective hazard was not as bad as expected, but the technical difficulty surpassed what we were anticipating, throwing a 'one move wonder' ice lead and snow up to 50 degrees at us. On July 16th at 9am we had the summit all to ourselves.
Finally, we had a bit of extra time, well…at least Liam and I did. I was considering a solo speed ascent of Pisco. Liam made no secret of his desire to climb the world famous French Direct route on Alpamayo. I was slow to warm to the idea, fearing the crowded slope and having to lead the entire route with ice raining down on me. By the time we were done with Huascaran, with a few big mountain leads under my belt and armed with some new information I gave it another serious thought. Over many beers, I agreed to go after Alpamayo with Liam. We would leave first thing the next morning. Getting all of our gear up to the glacier camp at 5,400m was tough work, but the scenery that awaited us made it all worth it. We left the tent at 2am on July 22nd, a full moon and clear skies gave us all the light we needed. Feeling relieved to be the first on the route, we made quick work of the glacier and crossed onto the face. We climbed through the night, fighting the cold and the unrelenting slope, I led 7 pitches of 55-65 degree snow and ice. The sun came up just below the final, crux pitch, one of the finest pitches I've ever climbed. At 7:45am I pulled off of the face and onto the summit. Surreal.
The full report and photos can be found on my site...