Congratulations Andrés and Christel! ¡Felicidades!
The team started climbing from High Camp around midnight last night and were the first on route. After climbing through the night they were rewarded with a beautiful summit. Andrés checked in this morning from High Camp. They had an awesome climb and are now resting.
Andrés and Christel are doing well at High Camp (5,490m/18,011 ft.). They are feeling strong and tonight will go for the summit of Alpamayo (5,947m/19,512ft).
The French Direct Route leads out from the glacier, over a significant bergshrund, and onto the steep, beautiful SW face of Alpamayo. The team will endeavor the climbing of 50-70 degree ice for many continuous pitches, to top out on the glorious summit pyramid.
Alpamayo in Quechuan signifies: Alpa – Earth, Mayu – River. May the continual energy of the Earth River flow though them as they climb tonight! ¡Buena Onda Andrés y Christel!
Andrés phoned in this afternoon. Christel and him are doing terrific, both are feeling great. Christel is super strong and positive, so together they are an outstanding team. They are at Moraine Camp (4,900m/16,075ft) tonight and hope to advance to high camp tomorrow (5,490m/18,011 ft.). We are cheering them on from the San Juans, wishing them a safe and fun journey as they go higher.
Andrés and Christel are doing excellent en route to Alpamayo. They are at Base Camp (4,300m/14,100ft) feeling great. Today they did a carry to Moraine Camp (4,900m/16,075ft) and will stay tonight at Base Camp. Sending them BUENA ONDA, positive vibes from the San Juans!
San Juan Mountain Guide Bill Grasse captures the experience of summiting Mt. Sneffels with his client. Mt. Sneffels is located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains in the SouthWest of Colorado. It is a prestine 14,000+ peak and considered a classic in Colorado. If you are interested Mt. Sneffels or Mountaineering in the San Juans’- reach out to our expert staff who can answer all of your questions and book your trip. or mtnguide.net
San Juan Mountain Guide’s second Alpamayo Expedition of the season is underway. Senior Guide, Andrés Marin is accompanied by the wonderful Christel Hennet. They arrived to Huaraz over the weekend with time to watch Christel’s team win the World Cup, Congrats!
Yesterday they met the burros and hiked from Cachapampa to the first camp. Andrés checked in and all is well.
Today they are heading to base camp. Wishing them a fun journey in the cordillera!
Classic Couloirs of the San Juans
Gilpin Peak’s North Face Couloir
The San Juan Mountains are blessed with a lifetime’s worth of climbing and mountaineering challenges in all seasons. One of the most overlooked times of year to climb in the San Juans are the months of May and June. Ample winter and spring snow is an excellent recipe for spring climbing conditions – especially on some of the area’s classic couloirs. One such classic climb is the North Face Couloir on Gilpin Peak.
Gilpin Peak is situated high in Yankee Boy Basin, directly across from the massively popular Mount Sneffels. The North Face Couloir is unmistakable, as it splits the steep North Face of Gilpin Peak directly down it’s center. Timing is a very important consideration on this climb, as at this time of year, the couloir comes into the sun at first light – so start early. For the climb on this day, we left Ouray at 0430.
The couloir gradually steepens as you climb, eventually reaching a sustained 55 – 60 degrees in steepness during the last 3rd of the climb. There is a choice towards the top to climb either the left finish or the right finish to the couloir. The left finish typically sports an overhanging cornice which makes that finish more difficult and much steeper at the crest of the ridge. The right finish is narrower and also steep, but doesn’t typically have much of a cornice at the top. We opted for the right finish on this day, and found excellent climbing conditions in that part of the couloir.
We brought a few pickets to protect some of the long steeper sections of snow, and then a few cams for protection in the narrower section of the couloir. I found a good spot to belay the steepest section of snow right where the rock that splits the upper part of the couloir meets the lower part of the couloir. A .75 Black Diamond Camalot offered excellent protection in that section.
After you crest the ridge, the last 100 vertical feet to the summit are quite easy, and end on the huge, flat summit of Gilpin Peak. As with most peaks in the San Juans, there are fantastic panoramic views of the entire range, with the Telluride Ski Area seemingly only a stone’s throw away. The descent heads down the ridge towards Blue Lakes Pass, then loops back into upper Yankee Boy Basin and basically involves class 2 walking.
Overall, this is one of my favorite couloir climbs in the range because of it’s steepness, aesthetics, positioning, and time-friendliness (we summited at 0800 and were down by 10am).
The Alpamayo Expedition is safe and they are now on their return trek to Cachapampa. They attempted the summit two nights; the 4th and 5th. Due to energy levels and weather, they did not make the top. Certainly, the journey was incredible and they learned a lot. That’s what these expeditions are all about, learning about the mountains and about yourself. We look forward to hearing accounts of the trip from Andrés, Nathan, and Jerry. Tomorrow they plan on arriving in Huaraz to celebrate.
If you haven’t been on the Telluride Via Ferrata, you need to check it out! It’s an adventure for the whole family!