Saturday, August 8, 2009

Up & Down & Back Again

so Rob was feeling pretty average the whole way out of the Ischinca valley. unable to keep food down he was soon gripped by fever on the taxi ride home. after 24 hours back in Huaraz he was feeling much better. a course of antibiotics had done him well. feeling well enough to consider eating some food we went to a local restaurant with a good reccomendation. we tucked away a hearty meal felt fat and contented. it was here we met Nate and Marcus, two americans that had been about for a while. Marcus was heading home the next day and Nate had 48 hours until his Dad and a mate were showing up in Huaraz. he put the question forward;

'Are you interested in heading up to climb Churup?'

Churup is a close by mountain that features some more technical climbing at a lower altitude. i was a biut hesitant at first, i didnt want to leave Rob on his own so i said i'd think about it. the next day Nate was still keen as mustard, and Rob wanted a little bit more time to start feeling better. it was on! i quickly packed up what we´d need and we were soon waiting out the front of the hostel for our taxi. a short drive later we were at the trailhead. we started walking, the track being familiar as we had hiked it for acclimatisation. this time, however, the packs were much heavier! we were both feeling fit and moved fast up to the first lake. getting many strange looks for all the other tourists. by now im used to that, 'you must be crazy' expression people have written all over their faces upon seeing big packs!

a few hours after starting we found our campsite. a beautifully secluded beach next to an amazing lake. above us loomed the mountain in all its glory, flanked by seracs and glaciers. we settled in to resting, hydrating and getting ready for a midnight start. we had to be down in town by about 1830 the next day, the taxi would be waiting for us at 1700 at the base of the trail. we would have to work hard and move fast!

the alarms rung and we snapped into gear, getting tea and breakfast on. like a well oiled machine we were soon heading out across the scree(talus) on route to the glacier. we steadily made our way onwards and upwards in the dark. feeling our way up the glacier. soon we arrived at the base of the route and we put the rope on for the first time. a steep traverse led us to the base of the rockband that provided the meat of the hard climbing. Nate took the first pitch. some amazing mixed climbing, without much gear for saftey saw us 70m higher. the climbing was easy enough to savour, and not worry about having to change undies later on!

Nate passed me the rack of gear and i made my way up and left, finding the traverse line that led to easier ground. some enthralling climbing led me out and out. with much hooking and torquing of my tools i was soon back onto snow. that had been some of the best mixed climbing i had done. Nate swung through the belay and led through a final band of rock and onto the headwall snowslopes above. we were moving fast and climbing well together, everything going well! the sun met us during the second pitch of snow. we continued to pitch it up the 65-70 degree neve and soon Nate cried down that he could see the summit ridge. i could scarcely believe him, it felt like we had much longer to go! he was right though, and soon we were taking in the panoramic views of the entire mountain range. a break for some water and food that i had neglected to eat on the route was warmly welcomed.

we made our way down the ridgeline to the first of the abseils. these were all fixed down a buttress of terrible rock. each abseil saw small rocks whizzing by us, threating to hit us, or worse, cut the rope. we kept at it and made it safe and sound back down to the glacier. here we packed the rope away and started down to our camp. we were soon down. its amazing how an approach seems so much longer in the dark! we checked the clock at camp, we had made it in 12 hours round trip! with plenty of time to spare we packed up and made our way down the hill.

arriving back at the trailhead much earlier than expected we were glad to find a waiting collectivo. we made our way down and cancelled the arranged taxi. i made my way to Cafe Andino´s for a beer and some food to celebrate. all the guys were there already so it was great! Rob was feeling better so we started thinking what was next.

with out too many ideas Nate piped in a great suggestion, why not try the fearsome Taulliraju. we were sold instantly. No one had tried this amzing mountain yet this season. it stands proud at the head of the Santa Cruz valley. Giving the impression of an impregnable castle, where all the bad guys live in the clouds. we were keen to go face those bad guys head on....

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