Monday, July 20, 2009
it took only a few days to start feeling a bit better and get ready for our first proper mission. we were heading up the Santa Cruz valley to try and stand on top of Nevada Alpamayo (5940m). alpamayo is one the most famous peaks due to its beauty so we wanted to do this one first. we had both dreamed of this one for a while!
an early start saw us riding in a taxi with all our gear to the collectivo depot. colletivo´s are communal taxis, that pickup and drop people off all along the way. its quite a good, cheap if somewhat hairy way to travel. a few hours of bumpy, cramped driving later we were at the trailhead of the valley. here we organised a donkey driver and two donkeys(nando and jorje). we had heaps of kit to bring to base camp and for only $20 a day its a good way to avoid the back-breaking loads! you only get one set of knees!
the valley was a beautiful one, full of fellow trekkers and climbers. there were, of course, the usual serious, professional german hikers. for them its not about laughing and joking, its a very serious matter. 3 hours after starting we made our way into Llama corral, a grassy clearing where we would camp for the night and rest the donkeys. we pitched our tent and got busy relaxing. there we some local dogs about which were the cutest things ever, it was hard not to let them into the tent!!
at the reasonable time of 8am we broke camp and started walking again. the valley was now nice and flat so the going was nice and easy! we came to the end of the valley quite quickly and started making our way up the hill to where alpamayo basecamp is located. loads of switchbacks made the going fairly straight forward, however we were starting to notice some altitude. we rocked up into basecamp shortly after lunch and got busy organising ourselves.
we were able to talk to some current inhabitants about the routes condition and soon learned that the french direct was the route that everyone was doing. with lots of gear left in place on the route, we would gun for this line. (along with everyone else!) Jono, the californian dude, had changed his ticket to join us before heading back home to work. he was on a tight schedule, so that meant we were too! we packed the bare essentials for high camp and settled into bed for the night.
a dawn start saw us climbing the moraine slopes, past the moraine camp and on to the glacier. we had 1200m height to gain so our work was cut out for us! the glacier was pretty chilled out, except for one massive crevasse we had to step over, staring down into the gloomy darkness as we did so. 6 hours after leaving basecamp we were at the col camp, where we would climb from. at 5500m it was the highest id ever been. soon i started feeling lousy, with headaches and nausea. a concoction of drugs and rest saw me feeling slightly better. we set the alarms for midnight and tried to get some sleep.
everyone else decided to get an early start too, so we ended up being the last group to the base of the route. a bit disapointed we waited in the bergschrund for our turn to climb. the group above us were moving quite slow, and there wasnt a good chance to pass them so we just had to wait! leading in blocks of three pitches each we soon had some daylight to climb by. the route topped out right on the summit for some spectacular views! we had some food and realaxed in some sun before making the 8 abseils to get back down off the route.
once back at col camp jono had to pack his stuff and make his way down the hill so he wouldnt miss his flight. rob and i just relaxed. i still didnt feel great so had a hard time eating anything. after a sleepless night we decided to make our way down. i was struggling to recover. my body being completely depleted of energy, i had nothing left to give! its the most tired ive ever been, altitude makes big-wall soloing look easy...
getting down the galcier was super-fast as its all downhill! we stumbled into basecamp and just sprawled ourselves over the soft grass. we got one of the locals to fry us up some chips and eggs for a few bucks and started feeling heaps better. we arranged some donkeys for the trip out the next day. we had already arranged a driver to meet us, but we got a new one so we didnt have to wait an extra day!
a 7am start saw us making our way down the valley. with light packs, we again moved fast down the never ending valley. soon however we were done. we payed the donkey driver his deniro and got a collectivo down the hill. with another car infront of us, both drivers were racing down the windy roads. i felt like i should be james bond, hanging out the window with a gun shooting at the car ahead!! the first collectivo we caught broke down, luckily another one came along soon after and we we soon showering in huaraz and making our way towards some food.
at the trusty cafe andino, we went nuts and pigged out on all the food we could eat! i had lost some weight, which i desperately needed to try and put back on! so for a few days thats my main focus, eating carbs, proteins and fatty foods ready for our next mission tommorow. we´re heading into the ishinca valley for a short, 4 day mission to climb the classic west face of toccalarju.
now for some more burritos....