Ishinca, Peru Alpine Climbing • May 23 to June 6, 2005

Our Peru climbing season began with a trip into the Ishinca valley. We were joined by Dan Kearns, from Nashville and by Dan Jones from..... well, perhaps more than any other place, we can call his home Honolulu.

Also climbing with us was Peter Alvarado. Peter's father, Emilio, is our regular "Man in Peru" and serves as our base camp manager. Peter is going through the Peruvian guides training program and joined us largely, I think, as another excuse to get into the mountains and do a bit of climbing.

Other Recent Trips

The first day of many of our Peru trips starts with a day hike to Laguna Churup, seen here. This is a fun and very scenic walk up to the lake which lies at about 4485 meters above sea level (14,870 feet). It is a good way to start our acclimatization.


The trek into the Quebrada Ishinca starts at the little town of Pashpa. On day two, we drove there, loaded up the burros and began our short, 6 hour hike into base camp.


The walk in first traverses high open fields, then enters the canyon of the Quebrada Ishinca before emerging again in wide valley at the head of the Quebrada. Here, Kathy and the Dans walk past a small lake near the start of the trek.


A new sigh, just added this year, welcomes us to the Ishinca valley. Behind is one of our climbing goals, 6032 meter (19,785 feet) high Tocllaraju.


Our base camp. The big red tent is our kitchen and dining room. Another group camps behind. Base camp is at about 4390 meters above sea level (14,400 feet) so we take it easy for a day.


After a day hiking in the area, we tackle our first climb, Urus Este, a 5420 meter (17,778 feet) peak just above camp. We can do this as a day climb. Here, Mr. Jones and Kathy arrive just below the summit. Base Camp is down below to the right.


Mr. Kearns and Kathy just shy of the summit. A bit of mixed climbing adds entertainment value.


On the summit of Urus Este. From left to right are Mr. Kearns, Mr. Jones, Kathy and Peter. Ocshapalca is the peak behind.


Back at Base Camp we enjoy a nice sunset over Tocllaraju and Palcaraju.


Next we climb Nevado Ishinca a 5530 meter (18,138 feet) summit just south of camp. Again we do this as a day climb. Here, the Dans climb through an impressive crevasse.


Mr. Kearns and Mr. Jones on the summit of Ishinca.


While the Dans and Mark were doing the normal walk up the peak, Kathy and Peter were getting in a bit of ski practice. Here they are arrive near the summit looking forward to the descent. Behind is Tocllaraju.


Peter and Kathy on their ski descent. Quite the backdrop.


After our climb, another rest day in the valley. The morning sun comes in low.


We had hoped to get in a bit of technical climbing, and chose this ice tongue on Ishinca as a good spot. Starting easily on low-angled glacial ice, we encountered a series of ever-steepening walls before the difficulties finally eased.


The last major step was the steepest. Here Mr. Kearns works his way up into the groove above.


Looking down on Kathy as she climbs the last short vertical section.


And we exit stage left at the top of the icefall. Peter scampers up the rock slabs with Tocllaraju in the distance.


This ended up being a long day, and we got down to base camp only about 20 minutes before sunset. But Mr. Jones smiles for the camera regardless.


Our last peak of the trip was Tocllaraju. We found a very nice high camp on a rock bench at about 5150 meters (16,892 feet). Mr. Kearns contemplates the view.


Another view of high camp on Tocllaraju. Nevado Aquilpo is the peak on the right and Copa on the left.


Every year the route is a bit different on Tocllaraju, especially at about the 5700 meter level, where a large crevasse usually creates some sort of obstacle. This year, there was only a moderately steep wall leading to a walk through this "hallway".


The final summit pitches of Nevado Tocllaraju. There are about 55 meters of moderately steep climbing here, with a final easy walk to the top.


The last steps to the summit on a perfect day. The big peak on the left and behind is Nevado Huantsan, a very difficult and rarely climbed summit despite its high altitude of almost 6400 meters.


Looking the other direction, to the northeast, from the summit of Tocllaraju.


Peter, Mr. Jones and Kathy on the summit of Tocllaraju.


But, the trip must come to an end. Hiking out, back to civilization.


The last big flat, just before dropping down to Pashpa and the waiting van.


Loading up the van in Pashpa, heading back to Huaraz.


We came out one day early and spent our extra day at the Alvarado family home, seen here. We enjoyed a Pachamanca, a celebratory sort of barbecue.


First a dome of rocks are heated with a fire underneath. When the rocks are deemed ridiculously hot the dome is opened, and packets of marinated meat, potatoes, and other delicacies are placed in among the rocks. When all is organized, the whole lot gets buried, and left for about half an hour, before "digging in".

Here, Emilio places packets of meat in the rocks while the Dans and Kathy watch.


Mr. Kearns, Kathy and Mr. Jones prepare to enjoy their Pachamanca.

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