Peru climbing – Ishinca, Urus, Tocllaraju and Chopicalqui • May 25 - June 11, 2012

This year we got back to the Cordillera Blanca for another trip to the Ishinca Valley and Chopicalqui. Joining us were Brian Cuthbert of Denver and Arnaldo Rocha from São Paulo Brazil.

Other Trips with Arnaldo

Alps climbing, February 2012

Other Trips with Brian

Chamonix to Zermatt - July 2011

Return to all recent trips


Reflections on the famously blue waters of Laguna Churup, above Huaraz.


Our first day at altitude, we like to hike up to Laguna Churup for the exercise and for the views. The trailside was full of flowers as well, the rainy season being just ended. Mark spotted some Indian Paintbrush, looking pretty much just like it does up north.


The next day it's in to the Ishinca Valley. This is one of our first good views of Tocllaraju as we approach our base camp.


An acclimatization hike above our base camp, takes us close under the west facing wall of Palcaraju.


Our first climbing objective is Urus Este, seen here from a lake high under Ishinca. Mouse over to see the route of ascent.


Wonderful snow conditions as Kathy and Brian head up onto the glacier.


Brian on the summit of Urus. Not too cold, obviously, as his bare hands attest! Ranrapalca is the big central peak in the background, with Ishinca to the left and Ocshapalca to the right.


Our basecamp in the evening as seen from the slopes above.


Arnaldo on the summit of Ishinca, with Ranrapalca behind.


Our final climb in the Ishinca Valley is Tocllaraju. Brian approaches high camp.


"Toclla" high camp in the early evening.


Sunset on Palcaraju from Tocllaraju high camp.



It was a gorgeous sunset complete with full moon rising. More views of Palcaraju from Tocllaraju high camp.


Looking toward Ishinca from the same place...


The view of Tocllaraju itself from high camp as night falls.


Steep climbing near the summit of Tocllraju the next morning.


On the summit of Tocllraju with (left to right) Brian, Peter Alvarado, and his brother William Alvarado. A gorgeous summit morning.


On the way back down Tocllaraju.


Celebrating our climb of Tocllaraju back in base camp, Emilio has cooked up a steak dinner.


The next day it's back to Huaraz for a bit of rest.


From the balcony of our comfy rooms at the Hostal Andino, we get imposing views of the massive twin peaks of Huascarán and of our next objective, Chopicalqui on the right. Mouse over for route information....


After our rest day, we load ourselves up again and head for Chopicalqui's Moraine Camp. Nearing the camp, the East Ridge of Huascarán Sur looms large.


Late evening sun lingers at Moraine Camp.


Sunset views of Chacraraju.


On the next day we head up to Chopicalqui High Camp with the help of porters.


Evening in high camp, with unusual up-close views of Huascarán's peaks catching clouds.


Chopicalqui in the evening light. It looks deceptively close!


Last preparations for bed, and for the climb to come.


The following morning was relatively clear after light snowfall most of the night. Snow conditions were quite good at first, but soft and sugary as the angle steepened.


After several hours of slow but steady progress, we encountered this especially steep slope at a little over 100 meters from the summit. Often steep, this slope was made particularly strenuous and insecure by the completely un-consolidated snow conditions. William Alvarado tackles the steepest pitch with panache and aplomb, but found no snow or ice capable of holding a belay anchor. We called him back, unwilling to oblige everyone to essentially solo up (much less down) this exposed slope.


Very tired, but still with some gas in the tank, the descent is still long and demanding.


Reaching the sunshine and the easier terrain at about the same time, we can relax a bit now.


Peter "terrain belaying" the start of several steep pitches we have to downclimb.


Although it was hard to turn back so near the top, we did have great climbing along the way, and some well-earned relaxation to look forward to.