We hiked in to the beautifully set Ishinca base camp and found a nice spot where we pitched our tent. We ate and went to bed.
When we got up for the climb of Ishinca at 2am of the first night, Jim had developed a cold with a bad throat pain and we decided to put in a rest day.
Later that day I climbed Urus (5420 m), which is an easy climb involving no glaciated terrain so I can safely be done alone. After a 5 hours round trip I arrived back in camp and Jim was already doing better. So we decided to give Ishinca a try on the following day.
The next day (Sat, July 19) came and Jim was feeling even sicker than before. We discussed our options and Jim decided that it would be best for him to travel back to Huaraz to recover in town instead of staying at 4600 m in the cold and dry mountain air. It was very sad for Jim to abandon the Tocllaraju climb but it was the right decision. Since I was feeling good and was well acclimatized by now, we decided that I would try the climb and join Jim in Huaraz 2 days later.
I hooked up with Tony, an American from Los Angeles, and Paula, an Aconcagua mountain guide from Argentina, whom we had met on the previous day while caching gear. The plan was to move up to the glacier camp, spend the night there, and try Tocllaraju the following night.
We wanted to get up at midnight to start out at 1am but somehow that didn´t quite happen... There was a lot of packing and cooking and shuffling about so that we weren´t on our way until 3am -- much later than planned. Paula led out, I was in the middle of the rope, and Tony at the end. After about an hour of walking Paula didn´t feel quite well, possibly an acclimatization issue, and decided to abort the climb and head back to camp. Tony and I continued.
We reached the the last pitch, which starts about 25-30 m below the summit, at 9:15 am. The couple from Colorado was on it. It looked steep but doable. After some debating, however, we had to acknowledge that is was fairly late in the day to spent another 1-2 hours to reach the true summit. Two days before we had witnessed a huge avalanche that came down the west face completely covering the trail. And on that same day a serac had fallen and the debris (microwave sized ice chunks) had covered the route as well. It was very hot on the mountain and so we decided to call it a day and started to head down an hour later.
We rappelled twice, wondering, where the pickets where that we had been told a Chilean party had left the day before. Later we would find out that the guide of the Finish woman had cleaned them when he bragged about it in camp. What a dumb ass. We rapelled using my 60 m rope and a 60 m 5 mm pull line. That combination worked quite well.
Back in camp I was pretty wiped out. It took me over an hour to pack the tent and my stuff and tie everything to my backpack. To make matters worse, on the way back I also had to carry Jim’s climbing gear that I had retrieved from the gear cache. Luckily, Tony and Paula helped me carry down another rope, Jim’s helmet, extra food, ice screws, etc etc
Back in camp, we celebrated the climb with a bottle of red wine from the hut, fresh tomatoes (!) that Paula had carried in, and some cheese and crackers.
The next day we organized a burrow and 2 horses to carry our stuff out. I arrived in Huaraz that evening where I met Jim who was feeling much better and who had visited some interesting ruins in Chavin. All was well and good and we made plans for our next climb.
Be sure to check out Jim s blog post about our adventures in the Ishinca valley.
- Ishinca Base Camp
- Urus Este climb
- Ishinca climb
- Tocllaraju gear cache
- Tocllaraju Glacier Camp
- Tocllaraju climb
- Return to Huaraz