Ishinca Area Climbing, Trip #2 • June 2002

Our second Peru trip of 2002 was a somewhat more adventurous version of the first. We were joined by Chris Kulp, of the Bay Area, and Ken Cooper of Massachusetts. First we hiked into the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca, establishing a base camp near its headwaters. For several days we hiked explored and climbed a peak or two. Then, with the help of porters Carlos and Peter, we crossed over a high pass to the Cojup valley (climbing Huapi on the way), up over another pass, this one between the Cojup and Ishinca valley, before descending to a second base camp in the Ishinca. Our last hurrah was an ascent of the Direct West Face of Tocllaraju.

Other Recent Trips

Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca

Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca. For our acclimatization hike on this trip we ventured up into the Cordillera Negra. The two main valleys issuing from the mountains are the Cojup (on the left) and the Quilcayhuanca (center, right). We started this trip hiking up the Quilcayhuanca.


Houses in the Cordillera Negra

Houses with a view, high in the Cordillera Negra.


Chopiraju and Quebrada Quilcayhuanca

Nevado Chopiraju in the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca. Our base Camp was just a short way up the left fork. The Cayesh valley is the right fork.


Quebrada Quilcayhuanca base camp.

Our Base Camp in the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca.


Climbing on Nevado Chopiraju

Our first real climbing day.... Ken and Chris climbing easy rock on the initial easy section of Chopiraju Oeste. Pucaranra is the large peak behind.

Our plan was to climb Chopiraju Oeste, and then continue along the ridge line over Chopiraju Central and Este before returning to Base Camp. Our guide books suggested that this was a good outing and only PD in difficulty. In the end we skipped the Este and still had a 16 hour day.


Chopiraju Oeste summit

Kathy and Chris on the summit of Chopiraju Oeste. This is a fun ascent, if a bit long in the lower approach section. The climb begins with much grass, then a bit of talus and rock scrambling to a notch in the west Ridge. From here rock and snow (sometimes steep) lead to the summit. Chopiraju means "central, or between, mountain" in Quechua and it is certainly well named. The views Pucaranra, Chinchey, Tullparaju and the fang of Cayesh were up close and personal. Tullparaju is the peak seen here.


Chopiraju Central, from the west.

While the up on Chopiraju Oeste was relatively straightforward, the down to the notch between the west and central summits was anything but. Here we are looking east toward Chopiraju Central. Cayesh is in the background. Hidden from view, in front of Central is a deep notch, reached by downclimbing much loose rock and steep snow.


Chopiraju Oeste, from the east.

Finally, arriving in the notch between Chopiraju Oeste and Central. This photo shows Chris and the Oeste summit.


Descending Chopiraju Oeste

Kathy belays Chris as he carefully downclimbs the loose ridge crest.

The climb back up to the summit of Chopiraju Central was again fairly easy, but as with the west summit, the descent was difficult. This time the rock was even more loose and belays were difficult to arrange. At last we made a couple rappels to get us to the easy glacier below, and in the low evening light, we found our way off the ice to more solid footing. The long descent down grass, scree and moraines took another couple hours.

In the end we called the route AD+, very scenic, but loose and demanding. Not for the faint of heart!


The Chopiraju peaks

After a good day of rest, we were joined by our porters Peter and Carlos, and the group of us hiked up to a high camp near the pass between the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca and Quebrada Cojup.

Sunset on Chopiraju is reflected in the small pond by our camp.


Nevado Huapi

Nevado Huapi lies on the ridge between Quilcayhuanca and Cojup. The morning we crossed the pass we got up early and made a quick ascent of the fun peak, climbing the ridge descending toward us. This was a good climb, a bit of rock, some steep snow and then easy bur very scenic glacier to finish.


Nevado Huapi summit

Ken, Kathy and Chris arriving at the summit of Nevado Huapi. The Quebrada Cojup is in the background.


Urus peaks and sunset.

After our climb of Huapi we descended to a camp in the Cojup valley. From there we made a long climb up to the crest that separates the Cojup and Ishinca valleys. We made a high camp right on the ridge crest, between the summits of Ranrapalca and Ishinca. Sunset and Urus Oeste and Central from the high camp.


Ishinca and high camp

Ishinca and our high camp between this peak and Ranrapalca.


Climbing on Ranrapalca

The following day we made an attempt on Ranrapalca's NE Glacier and Ridge. Here Chris crosses the bergschrund near the top of the glacier. A few hundred feet higher we ran into difficult climbing on the ridge proper. Lack of good protection and continued difficult climbing, eventually turned us back far short of the summit.


Descending Ranrapalca, Tocllaraju behind

Coming down off Ranrapalca. Tocllaraju is the sharp summit to the left, Palcaraju Oeste is the broad peak on the right. Ishinca is the peak in the foreground just over the climber's heads.


After descending from Ranrapalca, we rejoined Emilio and our base camp in the Ishinca Valley, took a rest, then headed up to Tocllaraju, our sights on the West Face.

This is our Tocllaraju high camp. Ishinca and Ranrapalca behind.


Tocllaraju Direct West Face.

The next day found us in the middle of a huge steep ice and snow face of Tocllaraju's West Face. Here we are about 5 pitches up from the bergschrund.

This is a good route, never extreme, but long and continuously steep.


Tollaraju summit

Kathy and Ken arriving on the summit of Tocllaraju after climbing the Direct West Face. Palcaraju is the peak behind, Huantsan in the distance.


Nevado Tocllaraju

Looking back at Tocllaraju from the hike out. The Direct West Face catches the sun of the early afternoon.


"JC" in Collón.

"JC" in Collón. For better or for worst, our hike out corresponded with a general strike, and all the roads were blocked. Our van was unable to come up and meet us. So we spent a rather uncomfortable night in Collón, before mustering our mule handlers for the "trek" to Huaraz.

In the end we walked virtually all the way to Huaraz, but it went much quicker than we though and we were enjoying a good hot shower at the Hotel Andino by 1 in the afternoon. Trekking with burros up the highway, littered with boulders and burned out stumps, had a strange post-apocalyptic feeling, something straight out of Road Warriors. A memorable finish to a great trip.

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