Huaraz in SummaryJuly 3rd 2012 to August 23rd 2012
This has been such a meaningful trip in many ways. I fully imersed myself in the alpine world and was greated with much success and tragedy.
This week was filled with altitude sickness, vommiting (me and cory) and contemplations of quiting mountaineering and sticking with climbing. I decided to hang in there knowing that patience is a virtue.
I patiently waited for Cory and Tony to return to town and Cory and I decided to take off to attempt Churup. It was a mixed route and looked really cool. Cory ended up very tired during the climb, so we bailed. I was wondering if Alpine climbing was for me.
This was a week of serendipity as I was about to throw in the towel and call it quicks on Huaraz, when we ran into Katty and Maria and decided to climb Huamasharaju. It was such an amazing time. We ended up opening a new route and I submited the information to the casa de guias.
This week was dedicated to getting it done. Ranrapalca is 20,2017 feet. This was the first time that I crossed the 20,000 foot barrier climbing and did so via a technical route. Deep snow conditions after the technical section had turned back many parties, but because of our speed and timing, we hit the snow before the sun fully rose and were able to summit.
This week was filled with tragedy as Tony, Adam and I entered the Cojup Valley in search of the bodies of Ben Horne and Gill Weiss, two American climbers who were several days late from their climb. We supplied the primary rescue team, helped bring the bodies back safely and broke the events to Bens dad when he arrived in Huaraz. It was a powerful experience and one that I hope not to repeat.
I was mentally and physically destroyed. I realized that climbing is such a unique addiction. There is something to be said about sport where a single false move or misjudgment could lead to death. Everytime we go out to climb, we roll the dice. We assess the risk involved, draw upon our experiences but in the end life and death may be a simple matter of luck. Some climbers choose to embrace the modern ethics of climbing and rise up to the challenges of pushing limits and setting new routes. Some climbers embrace the social aspect of the sport and enjoy casual outings with friends on easy terrain. Some climbers lie in middle. The truth of the matter is this sport is dangerous and at whatever level you climb, there is always risk involved. Gil and Ben pushed the limits of climbing to the extreme. They embodied the mentality of fast and light and if something was too hard, you pulled harder. They served as an inspiration to all climbers at every ability level. When I climb now, they climb with me. Their memory will live on and inspire even as their time on this earth has passed. I wanted to climb more...I wanted to climb La Esfinge. We started training at Hatun Machai and I was able to onsight two 11a sport climbs at 14,000 feet of altitude. No too bad for not climbing for 3 months. It was then time for La Esfinge...A 2,000 foot high grade V big wall at 17,470 feet going at 5.10R C1.
I felt accomplished on rock after Huamashraju, Hatun Machai and La Esfinge - but I came to the Cordillera Blanca to test my skills as an alpinst. I wanted to climb the French Direct Route (D+) on Alpamayo at 19,511 feet. It was in great shape this season and we were both strong and acclimitized, so we felt like we had a good shot at the summit. It was AWESOME!
A few times a year I get the itch to solo something. It does not matter whether it is trekking, free solo rock climbing, or big wall soloing. What matters is that I get out there alone and I challenge myself. It is such a unique feeling that is hard to describe. I wanted to do something solo on this trip. I wasnt sure if I wanted to solo trek, rock climb or alpine climb. I first tried to climb RimaRima but it started to snow, so I bailed. I then set my sights on an 18,661 foot glaciated peak called Vallanaraju. I climbed it solo car to car in a day.
Until next time...