Monday, July 9, 2012

Steve Curtis Visits Bolivia

Steve Curtis came to visit for two weeks and we managed to climb a few routes while he was here.  We started at the local area of Amor de Deus on the classic two pitch route, El Pirata:

Not bad for a first day's outing at around 11,000':

A day or two later, we went to Lago Zongo where the climbing is at 15,000'.  We made a new route which Steve is top roping in this photo:

Steve did great at the elevation:

Here I am bolting the new route.  It was about 33 meters and 6c in difficulty.

Steve tries the first lead:

We took a short drive down the pass to look at this virgin 150-200 meter cliff of good granite:

Huyana Potosi on the way home:

Back in La Paz, we spent a day at El Penon where Steve did most of the 21 routes:

Looking up towards the center of La Paz from the La Galleta area of Aranjuez:

Steve spent a few days traveling to Lake Titicaca.  Here's a shot of Lake Titicaca from Isand of the Sun with Illampu and Ancohuma in the background:

When he returned, we went back to Lago Zongo.  Here is a typical day with congo lines on Huyana Potosi:

We returned to our project which Steve redpointed:

He also repeated a route that Roberto and I had made a few week previously:

Tiquimani was clearly visible and looking in good condition from the aqueduct:

Steve at the anchors:

Our routes are located near the memorial plaque for the person who tried to ride his motorcycle along the aqueduct:

Another memorial:

Making an anchor for the next project:

Heading down to check out the line:

It's nice and steep:

Grrrrrr!  Bolting is hard work:

As usual, the clouds rolled in from the Yungas in the afternoon so we left:

Typical afternoon weather at Lago Zongo:

It is beautiful but not so great for climbing:

Steve went for a ride down the Death Road:

When he returned in the evening, he thought Roberto and I were joking about making a first ascent of some ice line on Serkhe Khollu the next day but we weren't.  We left the house around 5 am and drove for a few hours.  Here is Serkhe Khollu as the sun comes up:

First light on Huyana Potosi:

Our proposed line is at the right side where we hoped to weave between the gnarly seracs:

More light on Huyana Potosi:

The obvious central ice fall on the lower part of the mountain leads to scary seracs so we thought to climb to the right of the big rock buttress and then sneak up between the two serac bands:

Roberto heads up the first roped pitch:

I think this is the second roped pitch:

Higher, a pleasant pitch of good ice brought us here:

Roberto leads to the top of the rock buttress and what we hope are easier slopes above:

Steve handles the unfamiliar medium well:

Alas, just as I thought we had the new route in the bag, something goes amiss.  Roberto slows and fumbles what seems like an easy lead.  He hangs from his tools and barfs.  After lowering a few meters, he has to take a break to explode from the other end.  Steve and I are mostly sheltered from the effluent.  We beat a hasty retreat:

Perfect conditions but, as Roberto says, every new route on Serkhe Kholllu takes two tries:

Moonrise over the shoulder:

A new gate adds a couple of miles to the approach:

We'll be back!  The ice route Roberto and I climbed last October on the left side of the face is not formed at all this time of year:

We licked our wounds (definitely not literally given the nature of the gastric catastrophe!) for a day or two and then went to Quimsa Cruz.  Quimsa Cruz is visible above my left shoulder on this epic 8.5 hour drive from La Paz:

First, we drove down the river Choque for two hours and then we climbed to Cohoni at around 15,000'.  After that, we skirted the west flank of Illimani and finally droped back down to the river Choque at around 5,000'.  Here is the view on the final descent to the river:

Steve at the bridge on the lowest point of the drive:

The canyon of the river Choque:

Much higher, there are eight crosses where a small bridge collapsed under a truck:

Finally, we made it to our camp in the late afternoon:

A flat patch near a clear creek:

The next morning finds us heading to the pass 2,000' above camp:

The view from the pass:

Pico Penis and La Flama are on the left, Muralla Grande is a bit right, and various unnamed cliffs are yet further right:

Steve takes on a partially bolted 6c in the middle of Muralla Grande:

He climbs quite well but the corner is very dirty:

No more gear in sight:

We bailed from that route and begin to look for another.  Steve with the south face of Illimani in the distance:

We settled on this fine piece of granite:

Steve leading the first pitch:

Me following:

We had the best conditions I have experienced in the Quimsa Cruz.  Belaying was a pleasure:

The third pitch was dirty and harder:

Steve worked it out:

More dirt but with good rock underneath:

I got a lot of dirt in my hair following but it would be a great pitch if cleaned well:

The mighty Roberto and his hat:

We had time to make another route.  Steve leads a fist/offwidth crack towards another small summit:

Here we are on the summit of this fine little peak:

But first, Steve has to find the way:

Afternoon light from the pass:

The cooking tent makes camp life bearable:

The next day, it was much colder but still the sun shone at nearly 16,000':

After Steve led a short pitch to a small ledge, I prepared to make a new anchor for our route on the arete:

Anchor ready and down I go:

Looks like a good one:

Checking out the route:

After I placed the bolts, Steve makes the first ascent:

The weather is deteriorating but there was still some sun on the right side:

Steve takes on the steep bit:

Nearing the crux:

At the crux:

And into the crux:

The crux consists of several moves on this route:

Still more crux:

Almost to a rest:

Los Cuernos del Diablo in normal weather:

Steve nears the top:

Just a move or two to go:

Almost there:


Pretty hard at 16,000':

Fortunately, not much became of the weather:

Tossing the rope:

In and out of the clouds:

It was a little cold on the way down:

Feeling quite satisfied:

Steve's back hurt so we left for La Paz the next day.  Two times up to the pass was sufficient anyway.  The team:

1 comment:

  1. Its been a while since I've checked it. Glad I did. These are amazing!