Saludos from 3,100m…
I am pleased to report that the team have all arrived safe and well in the
town of Huaraz, the starting point of the expedition. I have been joined by
my 2 British climbing friends and by Sherpa Pasang from Nepal and Phil
Crampton from the US, who have 12 Everest summits between them, bringing a lot of experience to the group.
After an eventful 2 days of travel, which thankfully only included one lost
kit bag out of 15, (good odds for Peruvian travel apparently)and a high
speed tyre blow out on the mountain road, we are all settled in to our home
for the next 3 days. The town sits in the shadow of the imposing
Cordiallera Blanca Mountains, which rise up so high the summits are
concealed by clouds.
Our plan to summit Huascaran Sur, the highest of all these mountains, has
been rocked by the news that only 2 teams have successfully summited since May. The weather has been unusually bad this winter, with snow falling at 12cm an hour. A Czech team returned last week after unsuccessfully trying to climb. They tried for 3 days to find a way past the giant crevasse field, but were forced to return through the waist deep snow. The mountain has not been kind this season. All climbers are still a bit wary after theEverest incident earlier in the year, tales of which Phil has been sharing with us over some local beers.
Our team has discussed the route, and we feel that we risk sitting at base
camp for 15 days waiting for the snow to stop. The avalanche risk is high,
and the crevasses are too large to navigate.
So on to the good news…! With Huascaran Sur off the cards, we have made
the decision to attempt Ranrapalca (6,200m), a neighbouring peak that also
breaks the 22,000ft ceiling. This change of plan has changed our preparation, and so we now will climb Toclaraju (6035) as our
acclimatisation peak from the glacier camp. Both summits are highly technical, and present a different challenge all together from Huascaran….one that I did not expect but am excited to face.
I remain in Huaraz until wednesday, slowly acclimatising and resting before
we start the approach climb. Which is lucky, given that my walk up the stairs just now left me short of breath!
Onwards and upwards.