The Final Chapter

Trip Start Mar 21, 2012
Trip End Mar 25, 2013

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Where I stayed
Jo's Place Huaraz
Read my review - 4/5 stars
The Lazy Dog
What I did
La Esfinge

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

GOPR4265 Stitch

The final chapter of our Peruvian journey is brought to you from 4700m (15,400 feet) above sea level! This is a chapter of finishing what we started, of great achievement, and of great suffering-with a wonderful intermission in between!

Finishing the Liderazgo Course:

We completed teaching the 6-week Liderazgo y Habilidades de Montaņa (Leadership and Mountain Skills) course with the local teens. The final two weekends culminated in a camping trip up the Llaca Valley, an acclimitization hike that they drew maps for and can take clients on, and rock climbing and bouldering-all in their own backyard!   These final sessions reinforced the skills the students learned throughout the course, including: flora and fauna identification, map reading and orientation, knots, packing a pack, camp selection and setup, cooking with MSR camp stoves, Leave No Trace, leading a group of clients, first aid lite and hypothermia, and rock climbing and anchor building.  This was a lot of fun and a great learning experience for both the students and us!  These courses, and new specialized courses, will continue to be taught year-round, provided we can find good volunteers to continue to teach them!  If you, or anyone you know, may be interested, please have them contact us!  The next likely opportunity to teach will likely come in August, but change is a constant here, so if anytime might work!  I've copied the job description below for anyone interested - just email one of us back and we'll help you get in touch with Andean Alliance

Below are some pictures of some of our fondest memories:








Great Achievements and Great Suffering

Since our last entry, it seems as though we have been doing more suffering than achieving!  This is perhaps due to a combination: 1) we have, until recently, been attemping peaks around our volunteer shcedule rather than according to good weather and 2) we have set our sights on larger objectives!

Chopicalqui Sufferfest

After climbing Huamashraju, we decided to set our sights on something bigger.  At 6354m (20846 ft), Chopicalqui would do the trick!  Nestled behind Peru's largest peak, Huascaran, Chopicalqui is a beautiful and worthy peak. 

Chopicalqui on the left and Huascaran on the right (from the summit of Pisco)

But with the high snow pack, we had to wait later in the season than normal to attempt this mountain.  When we finally heard confirmation of good snow conditions, it was time to go.  We splurged on a porter to help us carry loads to the camp, purchased groceries and made arrangements.  We made a high camp at 5500m and despite hardly improving weather, we decided to give the summit a go, hoping the weather would clear by sunrise.  The climbing was tough and cold, but we made a good go of it and turned around at 7:30am when the weather seemed only to worsen after sunrise and we had hit the summit shoulder at 6150m. 

Famed backcountry taxi master, Raul, tying his suspension together with cord!! 
Our porter, Divorcio, with Chopicalqui rising behind

Climbing through Chopicalqui's serac field on the way to high camp

Our high camp on Chopicalqui at 5500m

Lindsey at our high point around 6150m on the summit shoulder

Downclimbing the route and one of the few times we could see past the clouds

On our way out of the valley, we caught a ride in the back of a cargo truck. It's always been one of Ben's dreams to ride in the back of one of these trucks through the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca!

Santa Cruz Trek

While we were suffering on Chopicalqui, Ben's mother, Sally and her friend, Diane were having a fabulous adventure in the once center of Inca culture, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.  They then came up to Huaraz to visit us and see the mountains of the Cordillera Blanca. 

Not more than an hour into their arrival (and a Pisco Sour or two), we had hatched a plan to all hike the Santa Cruz Trek together. 

The crew takes in the view near Punta Union, the high point of the trek at 4750m. Taulliraju's striking South Face dominates the background

Sally and Diane at 4750m (15,584 feet) Punta Union

The beautiful Rima Rima flower grows at high alititude and hides in the shade

While we were at camp once afternoon, Ben zipped up a nearby 5100m peak, Sentilo

The girls having a great time!

Paron Valley Climbs!

La Esfinge, known as the Spinx, is a massive rock wall in the Paron Valley, famous for its massive south and east faces.  Beyond its 700-900m vertical faces, this granite bigwall is made all the more impressively challenging by the fact that its base is at an elevation of 4750m!  We teamed up with Per again (our Swedish friend whom we had climbed Vallunaraju with and eaten pounds of chicken with at Brasa Roja)!  We started climbing at 4:50am (well before light so near the equator) and summited 20 pitches later at 5:25pm!  Ben and Per took turns leading the pitches; Ben took the first 9 technical and steep pitches up to 5.11- and Per took the upper, runout and wandery 11 pitches! 

After our climb of La Esfinge, we up valley to Artesonaraju where Per and Ben attempted the SE Face of Artesonaraju.  Without a rest day, the two embarked on a 1500 vertical journey that had them pulling some pretty crazy crevasse stunts low on the glacier which led to a long, long ice and snow climb directly up the middle of the SE Face.  They arrived a mere pitch or two from the summit where they faced a sketchy ice runnel.  The two opted to turn around with only two ice screws and profuse fatigue. 

Ben eyeing up the Sphinx and trying not to get intimidated!

Ben leading off on the stiff crack climbing on pitch 4.

Pulling the roof midway! Heaps of fun!

Lindsey enjoying the 5.11- finger crack fun!

Per provides a textbook belay for Ben.

Per takes over the lead block for the upper pitches!

Pulling the final moves, complete with down jackets to combat the encroaching cold of evening!

Lindsey enjoying the views of Laguna Paron

Artesonaraju and its seemingly endless SE Face (600-700m long!)

At a belay somewhere on the face

Traversing right high on the face - note the masterly placed picket!

We quickly ran out of pickets to rappel the face with so long, mentally taxing downclimbing was required.

Ben climbing higher on the SE Face of Artesonraju

Job Description for outdoor leadership instructor role at Andean Alliance:

Come spend time teaching outdoor leadership to the youth of the mountain communities east of Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca.

Job responsibilities:
Teaching a variety of the following skills to the following levels:

Level 1
Skills: Leave No Trace (basic), First Aid (Hypothermia, Altitude Sickness, Allergies and Anaphylaxis), Climbing Basics, MSR Stove Use and Safety, Camp Site Selection and Setup, Knots (6: Figure 8, Trace Figure 8, Double 8, Fishermans/Double Fishermans, Prussik, Overhand), Risk Management Intro, Maps (Introduction, Orientation and Topographic, Distance Planning), Packing a Pack, Flora and Fauna

Level 2:
Additional Practice and Reinforcement of the Following Skills: First Aid (Hypothermia, Altitude Sickness, Allergies and Anaphylaxis), Map Review and Instruction to Level 1, Packing a Pack Review and Instruction to Level 1,Leave No Trace (Sin Dejar Huellas)
New Skills Learned: Risk Management, Basics ofWeather Forecasting, Advanced Knots, Anchor Building (Natural and Artificial), Nutrition and Food Planning,Communication, Flora and Fauna, Rappelling, Altitude and Temperature, Spotting and Bouldering/Continuation of Climbing Skills

Level 3 Opportunities:
Skills: Navigation and Routefinding, Ice Climbing (Quebrada Llaca for future guiding potential), Snow School, Rock School, Cooking Preparation Homework, Client Communication and Expectation Setting, English to Work with Clients, Horses, Mountaineering

Instructor requirements:
- Working knowledge of Spanish
- Experience working with youth
- Experience with non-directive teaching methodologies
- Outdoor education experience preferred but not necessary
- Climbing experience a plus
- Flexible attitude: openness to working at a developing-world pace, ability to deal with change and open questions, etc.
- Self-starter: drive and initiative to resolve problems on your own, focus to develop your own curriculum if required and drive your program

- Generous lodging and excellent and nutritional food arrangement at Lazy Dog Inn (free accommodation and food for volunteers working with AA over 12 months, or heavily discounted arrangement for short term volunteers)
- Opportunity to develop your own schedule (we work with you to help you balance your personal goals while in the Cordillera Blanca with volunteering)
- Limitless exploring options literally at your doorstep (photography, hiking, climbing, bouldering)
- Opportunities to further develop and Spanish and learn Quechua
- Opportunities to become a part of a local community
- Opportunities to expand responsibilities if interested (educational, agricultural, community construction, specialized outdoor courses and skills)

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Rob Fatland on

I am filled with terror to the core of my soul merely looking at these photographs from within my snug warm office with its horizontal floor. My hat is off to you, all of you!

judy atkinson on

Breathless. Breathtaking. Beautiful. So cool to see Sally's wonderful smile amongst your pics. xo safe travels.

therunningdog on

Stunning photos and breathtaking accounts! That high camp at Chopicalqui looks beautiful.

11 wandering pitches on the Esphinxe sound tempting, too!!

Did you teach your students the most important part of mountaineering, the MC?

Deni on

You two are more than inspirational. Nice to see your cute faces and that spunky Sally!

krista.mcmillan on

most majestic pics!! So stunning, oh what I would give to join you guys! Your Mom is such a champ Ben:) Have another pisco sour for me k??

Dave Yount on

I wish I could meet Raul. He seems like the type of guy I would easily enjoy. Tieing his taxi suspension with cord? He's so my brother!

The Spinx as a party of 3 sounds like a great time!! Much more fun than climbing with only 2 on a team!!!!

diane on

Thank you for the great time and all the adventures couldn't have done it with out you.

Jason Griffith on

Love the photos, I'm impressed. And, a nice eye for post processing, great work!

I certainly need to make it down to Peru sooner rather than later. Damn.

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