Cordillera Blanca - Diary 2003

Peru 03

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Diary of Expedition to the Cordillera Blanca July/August 2003

Just brief notes giving an idea of what we did and when. Click the thumbnails to view larger photos and to see more photos go to the Peru section of my Gallery.

Mon 7
Arrived Lima 5 days ahead of others.

Tue 8
Found Marfil and booked others in. Got 1300 bus to Huaraz. Transport and accommodation details.

Wed 9
Headache all day! Checked prices for mules cook etc with guides and agencies. All sounding very expensive. Met Tim who runs California Cafe gave me numbers of two recommended arrieros who might be much cheaper if I deal with them direct, based in the approach to Quilcayhuanca valley. Will ring them tomorrow. (I never did manage to get in contact with them but their contact numbers are in the Huaraz section

Thu 10
Tried to ring the arrieros but all are away. Went back to Tim's cafe and he introduced me to Maximo Gamarra Jr San Martin 722 Phone: 756629. Tim assures me he has never heard any complaints about his working though had not used him himself. Have sorted out a contract with him. He was much more flexible than the agencies and I liked him, he had about as much English as I had Spanish but we managed! We agreed a final contract see Logistics for the prices.

Fri 11
Moved to Virgen del Carmen (S/15 good). 

Sat 12
Did almost nothing!

Sun 13
Rest of the group arrived at 2030.

Mon 14
Buy food with Maximo and Abel (the cook).

Tue 15
Depart to Pitec on at bottom of Quilcayhuanca valley. Set up camp at but higher than we wanted at almost 3900m but couldn't be helped. The intention had been to have a night at an intermediate height.

Wed 16
Nigel not feeling too good.  After about 4-5 km Nigel can go no further. S stays with him I catch up with others and with John bring back bivvy stuff. John stays with him, S and I carry on to base camp at head of Q Quilcayhuanca. James now also feeling very bad.

Thu 17
Ned goes down with empty sack and returns mid morning. Nigel has got much worse in night, much coughing with fluid on lungs and John has taken him back to Pitec and sent him down to Huaraz in a taxi. In evening all bar Nigel are at BC. On short walk out Sue has badly twisted her ankle again (dislocated) and during the night gets quite ill as well. This illness (unlike Nigel's) involved diarrhea and fever and we eventually decided it was a bad stomach bug which we treated with anti-biotics which seemed to work. However it left the sufferers very week for several days afterwards and severely impaired our acclimatisation.

Fri 18
Ned, John and James take walk up to top of Q Cayesh to dump gear for a higher camp tomorrow. I stay behind to look after S. Abel gives her ankle an excellent massage and puts some local herbs on it which seem to help a lot. She is feeling very bad, aching all over with bad head and stomach and fever. Give her Ciproxin in evening.


Ready to set off up Q. Cayesh

Sat 19
John now joined the stomach bug sufferers. Ned, James & I go to Q Cayesh camp at around 4300m. Take a walk up moraine opposite Maparaju route to get a better view of where donkey track goes whilst Ja and Ned go up the first part of the track.

Q Cayesh

Camp at head of Q Cayesh

Ned just before starting onto the Glacier (Q Cayesh in background)

Maparaju 5326m

Ned and James on route up Maparaju

Sun 20
Climb Maparaju 5326m. Up at 0400 and away at 0520. Long hard slog up to glacier and quite hard to find path in dark especially at the bad step in the rock band where it has collapsed. Start out on snow around 0830. Going gets progressively harder as we gain height but only becomes really hard for the last 200m of height. Reach summit around 1145. D3escend all the ay back to BC getting there around 1800.

Ned and James on Maparaju summit

Mon 21
Sue now much better. Return to Q Cayesh camp with Sue so she can have a crack at Maparaju as well. However with her bad ankle we decide to make an intermediate camp before the glacier.

High camp before glacier on Maparaju

Tue 22
Up to high camp on Maparaju approach. Great bivvy at stream around 4800m. There by around 1200, only problem is that it loses the sun early around 1500. S's ankle gave some difficulty especially on the traversing parts of the path.

Sue on route on Maparaju

Sue on summit Maparaju

Wed 23
Climb Maparaju 5326m. Up at 0500 and away for 0630. Reach glacier by 0730 and summit by 1030 (quicker than last tme). Then descended all the way to BC picking up bivvy stuff on way. N & Jn met us near Cayesh camp taking some of our load.

Thu 24
Return Huaraz. Everything worked very well. Donkeys showed up and Maximo was waiting for us.

Fri 25
Rest and plan.

Sat 26
Take taxi to Caraz (S/40) and stay the night at Hostal Chavin (ok S/20). This is start of Fiesta and great firework display from awesome bamboo structures. Jn & Ni went early to go straight up to BC to try to catch up with acclimatisation. Neither of them having managed a climb so far due to illness.

Lago Paron

Sun 27
Take taxi to L Paron (S/70 high because of fiesta). Interminable walk up N side. Then up moraine on the left to BC around 4400m. S's ankle very bad. This is old morraine and well vegetated with a lovely though small camping area nestled on it left side in amongst trees, the only problem tended to be masses of flies in the heat of the day.

Mon 28
Set out for Piramide glacier camp. S's ankle worse, so we decide to return to BC whilst others continue.

Tue 29
Around 1100 I go up to top moraine to await others. They arrive earlier than expected having failed to get v high on the route after a very bad windy night, and very low cloud making route finding very difficult.

Artesonraju 6025m
the SE face is the face in the shadow on the right

Wed 30
Return to Caraz. Ni and I have decided to return to L Paron to attempt Artesonraju 6025m SE face a 1000m face at a steady 55 to 60 degrees (the actual slope varies depending on who you ask and what guide book you read). Technically pretty straight forward but an awful lot of it! Whilst the others are off to do Yanapaqcha 5347m., which they later succeed on.

Alpenglow on Artesonraju

Descending Artesonraju 6025m

Thu 31
Ni, Sue and I return to morraine BC.

Fri 1 August
Ni and I carry a load up to the glacier camp below Artesonraju and return to BC.

Sat 2
Ni and I return to high camp for attempt on Artesonraju.


Sun 3
Up at 0030 and start up A around 0200. Quite difficult finding our way through several large crevasses to reach the Bergshrund which wasn't too much of a problem. The snow slope from here is now a steady 50-60 degrees and we start up still in the dark. However by dawn we haven't really got high enough (probably around 5700m) going a bit too slow and the weather is getting worse with visibility only around 40-50m and the wind picking up. We decide to descend leaving two snow stakes getting to the left edge of the face and then abseiling down that edge using rock anchors. After this we return to Huaraz meeting up with the others and have a couple of days left before returning to the UK.