Three out of Three in Peru!
Routes on Quitaraju and Ranrapalca. Joshua Jarrin photos
Last year Barbara S. climbed her first three mountains in Peru. She fell so in love with the Cordillera Blanca that she decided to come back for more. Knowing Barbara’s strength and climbing skills, the best option was to set up a customized trip. For the first part of the expedition the logistics were shared with another customized trip led by Marc and Sondra Ripprerger. Instead of Churup Lake (the classic Mountain Madness acclimatization hike) the team went to Ahuak Lake. With more than 180 km of the highest tropical range in the world at our fingertips, there were plenty of good options nearby to stretch our legs, gain some altitude and enjoy the views.
Barbara next to Ahuak Lake with Wallunaraju in the background. Joshua Jarrin photo
For the second part of the acclimatization we headed to the Cordillera Negra to Antacocha cliffs for some rock climbing. Seven pitches of moderate 5.9+ combined with the view of the Antacocha lake made for a beautiful day. These cliffs are right in front of the Blanca range and the view of dozens of snow capped peaks was a great added value to the climb.
Joshua rock climbing in Antacocha. Joshua Jarrin photo
Barbara on the 5th pitch of “Noches de Adrenalina” Antacocha cliffs. Joshua Jarrin photo
Then it was on to the Santa Cruz valley for three days, towards the Col camp of Alpamayo and Quitaraju. Barbara had already traveled in this valley in 2014 when she climbed Artesonraju. It was great to see this mountain during the approach knowing that it was a goal that had already been achieved, it was a good reminder of what we are capable of.
Climbers on the route of Alpamayo, the same route the MM team followed to the summit. Joshua Jarrin photo
Quitaraju, by the direct route, was the first mountain to climb, considering that other teams were headed for Alpamayo that day, which is an important factor to consider when the route goes by a narrow gully. Twelve pitches of a hard snow ramp and a final ridge were necessary to claim the first summit of the trip. The descent was by the same route, a strategy we would also use on the following attempts.
Barbara on the direct route of Quitaraju with Alpamayo in the background. Joshua Jarrin photo
Summit of Quitaraju! Joshua Jarrin photo
The decision to attempt Quitaraju first paid off on the next day since there were no other teams on Alpamayo. Speed is the key for this ascent, a bit shorter than Quitaraju but certainly steeper. The classic Andean cornices formed by the moisture coming from the Amazonian basins on the range add the spicy note of some climbs in Peru and on Alpamayo in particular. It requires the climbers to move fast before the sun heats the face. For Barbara it was not a problem, in seven hours round trip she was back in camp celebrating her second summit and continued all the way down to base camp on the same day.
Technical summit of Alpamayo. The real summit 10 feet above had a dangerous cornice. Joshua Jarrin photo
For the third and final peak of the trip we went to the Ishinka area, first to the hut at the bottom of the valley and on the second day to the Longoni bivouac. Both facilities belong to the Italian organization Mato Grosso and besides the great service they provide, it is nice to know that by visiting them the climbers are supporting a great non profit organization that has been dedicated to supporting the poor communities in the Andes since the 70’s.
Longoni bivouac with the north face of Ranrapalca. Joshua Jarrin photo
At 00h00 on the 21st of July we left the bivouac towards the north face of Ranraplaca, a 900m face that reaches the 6162m. The route, graded TD, was the “cherry on top” after two great summits. Steep snow, ice and rock combined with great weather and conditions, we couldn’t ask for more! Back in the valley the guardian told us that we were the first team of the season to climb the face. Certainly it was more challenging that the other peaks of the trip but more than that, it was a great climb that allowed us to start planning more for future projects.
Barbara on the middle section of the north face of Ranrapalca. Toclaraju in the background. Joshua Jarrin photo
Barbara on the last “crux” of the north face of Ranrapalca. Joshua Jarrin photo
No clouds in the sky, a perfect view of the Cordillera Blanca from the summit of Ranrapalca. Joshua Jarrin photo