Friday, September 9, 2011

Serkhe Khollu Attempt

I wanted to try a higher peak and Serkhe Khollu (just over 18,000') was an obvious target. I didn't want to do the regular route but rather a new technical route with rock and ice climbing. My friend Robert Rauch came to get me with his 4wd rig:

So where does the cement come from? We shall see:

On the way out of La Paz, we pass this awesome cactus garden:

Earlier this year, there was a landslide that wiped out 500 homes. Note the large earthmoving machine in the lower right and the canted buildings to the right and left:

Some of the displaced residents are still living in tents:

A river of millions of rocks mostly flowing in the rainy season:

Here is where they get much of the building material for La Paz:

The water for Zona Sur, where I live, comes from this llama-filled aquifer:
One llama has taken residence in the east-wing:

This is the local lake trout (trucha) fishing area:

I had to get out so Robert could clear this hill:

Here is the first view of our mountain (Serkhe Khollu) from our base camp area:

We started walking up to the mountain place our gear at the base and observe the face in the afternoon to see if there was dangerous stone or ice fall. I observed this natural phenomenon:

And some fine young llamas:

Our intended 1,000' route is just in front of Robert's hand:

Here is a closer look at its classic snow and steep ice features:

We stash our gear and begin to descend, very satisfied with the prospects. Looking back down the way we came with the campsite well below the central lake:

On the descent with our project to the left:

Hyani Potosi comes into view on the descent:

So the sad story is that I woke up very sick the next morning and just walking back up to collect our gear was a major epic for me. Even walking on the flat with no pack made me feel like puking. The camp was only at 15,500', and I felt great the first day to 16,300', so I was surprised and disappointed to fail before we even started to climb but that's how it went. Here is Robert on the descent:

Our camping area where there were zero lights visible anywhere around, except the stars:

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