Friday, July 11, 2014

Cara Sur de Pico Italia o Pico Triangular

A week after we made the new route on the south face of Pico Milluni, we made another new route on Pico Italia or Pico Triangular or Pico Integral (18,550').  It's Bolivia so naturally we don't know what to call this lovely face.

It was a little higher, a little longer, a little harder to descend and, overall, a lot more difficult  even though the Pico Milluni route had a technically harder crux.  We called it the Wormhole (M4, WI4, 5.6, 500m plus a long ridge descent on good but loose rock) for reasons that should be obvious after seeing the following photos.

Roberto about to enter the lair of the worm:

Thin ice and not the best granite but totally awesome for people who suffer from the alpine sickness:

Gregg at the end of the initial difficulties:

A beautiful thin strip of hard snow and ice led upward:

Notice the gap in the rock above Roberto:

Some times you just have to let your tools dangle and grab the rock:

Roberto encounters the Wormhole:

And has to remove his pack:

Gregg also has to remove his pack:

Notice that I have cleverly taken the smallest pack and can worm my way through:


Getting to some fun ice:

Roberto and the lake below that would work pretty well for ice skating:

Gregg handles some steep ice:

An endangered elephant serac:

Mmmmm, 40 meters of steep ice guard the top:

Like a dream come true:

The uber-classic south ridge of Huayna Potosi:

Illimani and Mururata:

At last, the summit:

The west face of Huayna Potosi showing its true angle:

We descended a bit and then made a rappel:

I was initially freaked out by the loose rock and the exposure but the fine late afternoon light and generally mellow nature of the climbing was relaxing:

I think this was the place where I saw the col we were trying to reach and felt some great relief:

Then I pulled a rock off which was roughly the size of a desk.  Maybe not a CEO size desk but still.  Here's where I came to rest:

And then it got dark:

Cara Sur de Pico Milluni

Gregg Beisly, Roberto Rauch and I made what we believe is a new route on the south face of Pico Milluni:

We called it Ya Pues (M5, WI4, 18,000', 500m of face followed by 500m of ridge climbing).  We were able t climb the initial 300m without ropes but falling would have been bad:

Getting to the first belay:

Nice hard snow, ice and easy mixed climbing:

Gregg on the crux:

Some patches of deep soft snow kept it real:

The middle portion of the route had a series of classic narrow mixed gullies:

Still a lot of face above:

A couple of enjoyable mixed moves on this pitch:


Better cold hands than rockfall:

Exiting the gullies onto the steep upper face:

Smiles all around for this excellent route:

Still aways to go:

Finally, the ridge:

And the prospect of some sunlight:

Looking 500m down the route:

At last into the sun:

The next few hundred meters were similar to the Upper Exum on the Grand Teton but 4,000' higher and maybe climbed one or two times in this direction.

The summit complete with cairn:

Nice late afternoon light:

Roberto waiting his turn to rappel:

We made three rappels and followed a series of ledges to loose scree and talus.  Gregg knew the descent so it went very smoothly.  I imagine it might be hard to figure out if you didn't know where you were going.

Another few miles of hiking in the dark brought us to Casa Blanca where Robert and I had soup while Gregg ran the 10k or so to retrieve the car from the other side of the mountain.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guiding Course

In May, I took a ten day guiding course which was basically a filter for the real UIGAM aspirant guide course which is forty five days long.  It was an interesting experience with some first rate instructors.  I was the only non-Bolivian out of the thirteen students.

First stop was rock climbing in Penas:

Unloading the bus in Penas:

Getting ready to practice short rope technique on some easy terrain during the second day with Kamasa, the local dog.

Tons of fun scrambling:

Some of it was exposed:

Plenty of rocks for sport climbing:

The view from my bed:

Rappelling instruction:

I made a new route on this wall which we called Kamasa after the local dog.  Kamasa means valor, bravery, or strength of spirit in Aymara.  The dog got his name because he was afraid of sheep when he was little.  Likewise, this well bolted route does not require extreme bravery to enjoy but it is very fun.

Here we are on the bus returning to La Paz after the first part of the course.  Anselme Baud, a famous pioneering extreme skier from France, is on the left.  He was one of the instructors for the course and is responsible for the establishment of the UIGAM climbing school in Bolivia.  Jaime Gonzalez the dirigente of the AGMTB (Association of Bolivian Mountain and Trekking Guides) is on the right.

The next part of the course was at Zongo Pass, at nearly 16,000' for the basecamp.  Sergi Condori and Jaime Gonzales were the leaders of this course:

Eduardo Mondragon from Chile was one of the instructors.

On the summit of Pico Milluni South which we climbed via the southeast ridge starting at around noon.  The instructors wanted to put some time pressure on us.  They succeeded.

I should probably learn to adjust my helmet properly.  On the descent from Pico Milluni.

The next day was basic crampon and piolet practice on Glaciar Viejo:

Five guys trying to pull out a deadman anchor:

Practicing with snow stakes in foul weather:

Tossing the student down the hill for self arrest practice:

A one and a two and down you go:

Somewhere around 18,500':

Snow conditions were unstable and we had a little incident at 19,000':

Nobody was hurt.  Just below is a huge crevasse.

Lago Zongo from near Campo Argentina:

I see faces:

Los chicos:

Making our way back to the high camp:

Typical mist arising from the Yungas in the afternoon:

The next day was the guides' party during which the new high camp was to be dedicated to Anselme Baud.  The plan was to bring a group of people to the new high camp but the night before extremely strong winds blew the roof off so the party was relocated to Glaciar Viejo.  The band sets off:

Cholita in mountaineering boots:

The band in action:

Padre Antonio, the climbing priest, gets ready to bless the ices axes and ropes:

Padre Antonio with the assistance of Anselme Baud and Aldo Riverez blesses the axes and ropes with Huayna Potosi in the background.  The area where the avalanche occurred is in upper right corner.

Some of the fine granite in the Zongo pass area.  More about that in a later post.

Anselme and Yolanda get the dancing started at the fiesta: