Peru 1987

Slide 7 Next


Rappelling the southwest face of Alpamayo at sunset

We climbed the direct route on the southwest face of Alpamayo the next day, it was a long one. The climb was about 10 pitches of 55 degree snow and ice, with the last pitch rearing up to about 80 degrees. This final pitch was quite exciting because it was composed of snow and honeycombed ice, the only good pro was snow pickets driven to the hilt. Due to the traffic on the route, however, boot holes had been punched for this pitch so it wasn't as hairy as it might have been.

Remarkably, the belay stations were entirely fixed by ice screws and snow pickets. My guess is that guided parties set this up early in the season and people use these all year long, until the wet season when fresh snow covers them up. They made for a convenient descent of 10 raps. This photo was taken about halfway down with darkness coming very soon. We didn't make it back to camp until an hour after dark. If you look closely in this photo you can see our tracks snaking across the glacier to our high camp.

Nobody else climbed the face the day we did, but the next day 5 chaps from New Zealand came and free-soloed it. We were quite impressed by this, especially the final pitch.

We had planned to climb the neighboring peak of Quitaraju after Alpamayo, but we were in no shape to head up it the next day. After climbing the most beautiful face around, our motivation to climb less aesthetic routes was dampened, so after a rest day at high camp we went back down to base camp and out the next day.