Climbing in the Cordillera Real: another twofer
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
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Rest day in La Paz. Bus for Sorata (4h ride) in the late afternoon. We camp at the edge of town on the soccer field.
In Sorata (2,600m) we meet some trekkers (Luis, Anton and Ben) who decide to accompany us for the first two days (out of seven) of our next mountaineering adventure. In the early afternoon we take a short cab ride to the trailhead. Then it is a 3-4h hike to Laguna Chillata (4,100m). We've been in the fog all day.
Day 2 - The weather is clearing up. We hike to the Ancohuma Base Camp and end the day just below Laguna Glaciar at 5,000m. We are now above the clouds with awesome views over the Amazon basin and the surrounding glaciers. Tomorrow we'll have a long day to the summit so we are in bed by 7:00pm.
Day 3 - Up at 2:00am and on the move by 3:00am, we make our way up through the moraine and eventually step onto the glacier at around 6:00am. The glacier is huge with vertical walls of snow and ice topping easily 10 meters. But conditions are good and we are able to follow old tracks to make our way up the glacier. The summit seems much closer than it really is. We chose to ascend the left ridge which proves more vertical than we expected. We reach the summit of Ancohuma (6,427m) at 11:00am. The views over Lake Titicaca and Illampu, our next objective, are spectacular. Back at High Camp at 5pm for a well deserved rest. We find the boys have left us bread and a couple cans of food...aah, sustenence!
Day 4 - Lazy start this morning; we needed the rest. At 10:00am we start the long cross-country traverse to the Illampu Base Camp (called Aguas Calientes). It involved a lot of rock hopping, some class 3 moves, and a fair bit of elevation gain/drop. We have to get over an unnamed pass in high winds then drop over 400m to Aguas Calientes. The description we got from the internet was a little confusing, but we eventually make sense out of it. Camp at Aguas Calientes (4,600m).
Day 5 - After fixing a hole in Yannick's inflatable sleeping pad, we move our camp to the Illampu High Camp (5,400m) in the moraine near a nice water source. Only 3-4 hours of effort to get there but that is more than enough after the last 2 exhausting days at altitude. We take it easy for the rest of the day, despite the tent being shaken by strong wind for hours.
Day 6 - When the alarm rings at 3:15am, the wind has died. At 4:00am we head up the moraine ridge towards the Illampu headwall. As we reach the glacier and gear up for glacier/ice climbing, the day breaks. The headwall is about 50 degrees and with 4 ice screws and 1 picket for protection, we are able to surmount the headwall in about 2 hours of simul-climbing. The rest of the ridge is fairly easy but patchy with deep snow and the finish to the summit consists of 3m of nearly vertical snow.
Back at camp at 5pm.
Day 7 - Food supplies are running low and we are going down the mountain a different way than we came up. So we ration ourselves and start early. We pass by a couple nice villages on our way down to Sorata and end up spending another night in our tent on the soccer field.
We take the 5am collectivo for the 4-hour ride to La Paz. Once in the big town, we change hotels for one that has CABLE TV...time to celebrate after summiting TEN 6000m peaks this summer.
Sick last night (especially Yannick)...some kind of food poisoning. We spend the entire day in the hotel room, enjoying HBO. We were packed up to do another big peak (Illimani) but it isn't going to work out.
Getting better healthwise but still feeling pretty weak. Glad we have TV in the hotel to stay entertained. Later in the day, we go buy our bus ticket to head back to Lima. In precisely one week, we will resume our bicycle ride to Ushuaia from where we left off. It looks like our friend Steve (from Lima) will be riding with us from Lima to Cusco (which should take about 2 weeks)...we're excited!