Monday, October 3, 2011

Piramide Blanca

As soon as we arrived in Bolivia, I planned a trip to Quimsa Cruz from October 1-5 for some alpine granite rock climbing.  Unfortunately, an unsettled weather forecast caused us to change plans for some mountaineering in the Condoriri area instead.

Also, it turned out that our stuff from the US would arrive at the same time:

So, while Aimee was handling the arrival of our stuff, I went climbing here with Roberto and Eduardo:

Our base camp is just beyond the lake:

My first time traveling with burritos.  It is the only way to go in Bolivia:

Cabeza de Condor on the right and Ala Izquierda on the left (duh):

Huallomen in not so great condition for ice climbing:

Ala Derecha also looking good if conditions were better:

We are lucky to get good weather as the forecast was for rain and snow.  Given the unsettled weather, we opt for a variation of the direct route on Piramide Blanca (5,230m/17,200ft).  It follows the steepest snow and ice line on the right side of this face and then up the ridge to the summit:

We get a not-entirely-alpine start.  But get walking before 7 am:

Robert on the glacier:

We start up the first few hundred meters of steadily steepening snow unroped:

At the first rock band, we broke out the rope.  Eduardo leads to the base of the ice fall:

Roberto prepares to lead the overhanging crux:

After a long struggle, he finds this excellent belay in an ice cave:

Eduardo joins us in the cave:

I'm chilling in the cave:

But eventually, it is time to leave the cave:

Enjoying the sunshine:

Eduardo heads to a sweet arete:

After a few more pitches, we celebrate the end of the roped climbing:

There remains, however, the matter of the summit.  We ascend into the snow.  The climbing is exposed and strenuous but not hard:

After what seems like hours, we can finally scramble to the top:

My turn to tag the summit:

The descent involves some scary downclimbing:

Finally, we reach the glacier and rope up again because of the many crevasses:

After a long plod during which each of us breaks into hidden crevasses at least once, we hit the lower part of the glacier where crevasses are far fewer:

Luckily for us, there is a burro for hire at basecamp to help carry our stuff to the car:

A few last shots of Condoriri in the fading light on the way out:

It was a long day, about 10 hours tent to tent and 16 hours tent to front door, with the most dangerous part driving back to La Paz in the dark.  Speaking of front doors . . .

Honey, I'm home!:

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