Although Ken lives in Texas he is on a mission to climb Colorodo’s 54 14,000 foot peaks! Last week we went into Chicago Basin with his son and climbed the areas three semi technical 14ers; Windom, Sunlight and Eolus. I believe after our trip Ken has climbed 38 14ers! We will be seeing Ken again in a couple weeks to climb Mt. Wilson and El Diente near Telluride. Stay tuned!
Its not super common that we hike into Vestal Basin from Molas Pass. We usually take the train which cuts off about 6 miles round trip and a 2,000 foot climb from the river back to the car on the way out. Aaron, Jacob and I left Molas on Wednesday morning and made great time getting into Vestal Basin in 5 hours. We set up camp and talked about the strategy for Thursday. Vestal Peak would be first via the incredible and classic Wham Ridge. From the Vestal summit we would descend the South Face back to the base of Arrow and then climb Arrow’s Northeast Face and descend to camp. Although we woke up to clouds on Thursday the skies cleared and everything went as planned. Except that when we got back to camp Aaron and Jacob decided that they didn’t want to spend another night out as planned but would prefer to hike back out to Molas Pass. It’s amazing what two soccer players from Iowa can do when they have been at altitude for a few days! All total we hiked about 20 miles and gained 8,000′ of elevation.
We wanted to let everyone know that the team is safely back at basecamp and enjoying some rest before the final push back to Huaraz. Soon, they will be enjoying a Pachamanca! More details to come with pictures once Andres and team reach Huaraz. Nice job everyone!!
Safely Back at High Camp
Just got word that Alpamayo Team #2 summited yesterday and are safely back in high camp! We will post a full recap once we hear from Andres about the details of the climb. Great work everyone!
At Alpamayo Basecamp
Our second Alpamayo Expedition of the season is underway and going very well. Everyone in the group arrived to Lima on time, with no delays and all their bags (whew!). After a night in Lima, the group boarded the Cruz del Sur bus – with VIP seating – for the trip to Huaraz which is approximately 8 hours from Lima.
Upon their arrival in Huaraz they were picked up by our support staff and transported to The Olaza’s Guest House, where they spent the next few days acclimatizing and packing for the trip, not to mention enjoying the views of the Cordillera Blanca range from Olaza’s wonderful roof top patio. The trip preparations with our support staff went very smoothly, and after a final gear check everyone was feeling prepped and ready for the following days transport to Cashapampa, and the start of the trek into basecamp which is supported by burros.
Andres called on Monday to let us know that the team had successfully made it to Basecamp and everyone was doing fantastic. Spirits were high all around. The team was planning to do a load carry, with the help of their porters and cooks, to Moraine Camp the following day (Tuesday) and then establish themselves completely at Moraine Camp today (Wednesday). The pictures attached to this post are not from this trip but give a general sense of where they are headed in the days to come.
We will post another update as soon as we hear from Andres and the team – hopefully later today!!
Alpamayo Expedition #2
Alpamayo Summit Success!
On Tuesday July 9th, we moved to high camp after a 3 day snow storm that had us tent bouded at Morraine Camp. Upon arrival to High Camp, we struggled to set camp up with the almost 1 m of snow that had been deposited at places. But Rich and Ásgeir kept the good spirits that we had had over the entire expedition. Expectant to evealuate route conditions, we decided that after a hard day of work and given the accumulated snow, we’d take a rest day on Wednesday and shoot for the summit on Thursday, putting all our chips in one basket; summiting on the very last day possible.
Since the start of the climb, we all agreed that “we’d be patient and we were not going to quit untill our planes left…” and so we did! This would involve to summit on the last day possible and also descending to Base Camp after the climb. On Wed, I grabbed Juanito, our fenomenal porter, and we went off to break the trail to the bergschund, a task that had not been done for the last 5 days and was contemplated by many from their tents. 1m of snow made it hard to approach the base of the route, but checking its conditions was mandatory, and facilitating the next day’s progress to the climb, a must.
With 2 days of sunny weather, we knew that all this snow would pack down and transform quickly. So we just continued to rest and got ready for our summit bid. At 12:30am of Thursday the 11th, we clipped into our rope and set off to the base of the route up Alpamayo, the “Direct Basque-French”. A somehow populated high camp made us decide to be the first ones up, to avoid being expossed to ice fall from climbers above. We started the climb with a train of headlamps following our tracks 1h behind. After the first 2 pitches of semi-consolidated snow, we were swinging our tools into consistently good quality ice. About 3 rope lengths below the summit of Alpamayo, the sunrise greeted us to the 3rd bluebird sky day in a row, and literally, the 3rd in the entire expedition. By tourning our headlamps off, we entered the narrowest section of the climb, the upper gully that slightly traversing right with the only deviation of the route, grants access to the summit of Alpamayo.
Rich and Ásgeir moved along the entire climb and their sincronized progress below me was pleasant to witness. It is always a treat to climb with those who do their homework before a climb and not only show up excited, but well prepared, trained and determined. At 8:30am the team reached the narrow top of this mountain, where there was only room for 3 or 4 people. After a summit’s high five and mandatory pictures, we initiated our series of rappels down, to give room to the only couple of climbers who followed us successfully to the top and to abandon the strong winds that were hitting the top. Some 9 full 60m rope lenghts after, Rich, Ásgeir and myself were back at the base of the SW face of Alpamayo, with just a few hundred yards to walk back to our camp. It had been a serious 11h30m of climbing up and down this beatufull but challenging peak. Now our minds were set on recovering and start our descent towards Base Camp… We now had only one day left to reach the trailhead, and eventually Huaraz, so to be on time to our bus to Lima and planes back home on Saturday was the goal.
Tired, but with safety in mind, we started our descent through the opened up glacier, and it was to the lights of our headlamps that we crawled back into the dryness of our BC tents, leaving the snow that had been home for the last few days. Our always sevicial cook Francisco and loyal porter Juanito helped us enourmously with this transition, without a doubt, the hardest of all during the expedition. Now, we only had to walk back to the trailhead on the safety of a grass covered path and the thickening of the lower elevation’s air. Jumping into our bus at dusk, we were congratulated by our outfitter’s personell, who took us to Huaraz. With barely a few minutes to order dinner before closure time, we celebrated to local cuissine and went to our eraned 1st bed in 2 weeks, not without greeting SJMG’s 2nd expedition at the hotel and wishing them best of luck on their jurney. This successful San Juan Mountain Guides expedition to Alpamayo was over.
Elias de Andres Martos
Back in High Camp
Elias called to report that he and his two clients successfully summited Alpamayo and were back at high camp, preparing for the rest of their descent back towards basecamp. Elias will write up a full accounting of the summit day in the days to come. Congratulations everyone!
Established at Alpamayo High Camp
Elias just called in with an update for their Alpamayo team. After 3 days hunkered down at Moraine Camp due to weather and plenty of fresh snow, the team finally made their climb to high camp and are now established and ready to push for the summit tomorrow.
The weather looks good for them and conditions on the route seem to be in optimal condition for the ascent. We will be wishing them well on their climb of the French Direct Route on Alpamayo. The French Direct (pictured) is characterized by steep snow and ice climbing up to 70 degrees. This is now the preferred route to the summit, where in year’s past many teams opted for the Ferrari Route which is no longer climbed due to poorer conditions on that route.
We will update their progress tomorrow so stay tuned!
Progress Towards High Camp
Elias and his team are making good progress on Alpamayo. On the 4th of July they checked in from basecamp, and were planning to do a carry to moraine camp the following day. Everyone was doing well and in good spirits.
Two days later Elias called in with another report. Elías reported that they did a carry yesterday and today they are camping at the moraine camp at 5,000 m.
Tomorrow they will rest and the following day head to high camp. The weather has been good in the am, with rain in the afternoons. The forecast is showing favorable weather upcoming for the next five or so days, hopefully fine summiting weather. Climbers that he has spoken to that have climbed the peak recently have said that the route is in good shape.
This morning, Elias called in again with another update and reported that they took a mandatory weather day yesterday, after taking a rest day the day before. The weather is looking beautiful Andean blue today. The team is planning to move to high camp today and summit tomorrow or the next day. Today is Rich Doren’s 53rd birthday!
Our second Alpamayo Expedition of the season starts on Thursday and is being led by SJMG Senior Guide Andres Marin. Stay tuned for more updates!