Huascaran 2014 Expedition Dispatches

Dispatch #20: August 11, 2014 - Huaraz

This is the final dispatch of the season from the Cordillera Blanca of Peru. Our third team are making their way to Lima today and Pasang Sherpa and I will spend a few days hanging in Huaraz, cleaning gear and enjoying this great town before both heading home directly to Kathmandu for our annual Manaslu and Cholaste expeditions starting in August and October respectively.

Pasang Sherpa and I have climbed on ten peaks this season and we have had thirty climbers collectively on our three expeditions.

We have had mixed fortune on our chosen peaks this summer. Huascaran was problematic from the start of the season and we believe there were only two summits, early in May, from the entire season. The route above camp one had very bad potential danger and most teams switched their climbing objectives, as we did after our first Huascaran expedition.

The Ishinca Valley was amazing as always and we climbed two 5,500-meter peaks but were caught short on the 6,000-meter Tocllaraju by a huge crevasse with a comedic rickety wooden ladder. Not to worry though as we have invested in several aluminum ladders for next year.

We are very excited to be offering two new climbs for the 2015 Peru season. Our Cordillera Blanca Introduction will climb two 5,500-meter peaks as well as a beautiful 6,000-meter peak all from the same valley to save time. Our 8,000-meter preparation climb will be a mini version of a Himalayan expedition and will attempt one of the Cordillera Blancas most prestigious summits. Details will be posted soon on the website about this climb.

Signing off from the beautiful Cordillera Blanca of Peru.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #19: August 9, 2014 - Huaraz

We are now back in Huaraz after our climb on Chocpicalqui. All was going to plan until the weather decided to be cruel to us.

We made the climb to moraine camp in great conditions. The following day we made the climb to the glacier camp located at 5,600 meters also in great conditions. Later in the day the weather took a turn for the worse and we received snow, strong winds and whiteout conditions.

The plan was to make a 1 am alpine start for the summit push but the conditions were unfavorable for a safe push. We waited for the weather to improve, which it didn't. The forecast was not looking good for the next few days so we decided to head for base camp and then Huaraz. Many other groups also aborted their summit pushes due to the conditions.

We broke down base camp in a snow storm and made the three hour drive back to Huaraz with hot showers and cold beer.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #18: August 3, 2014 - Huaraz

Our lightweight alpine climb of a 5,700-meter peak went exactly according to plan. We left Huaraz on Saturday at 11.30 am and retuned today, Sunday, at 12.45 pm with the summit of Vallunaraju.

The team made the trek from the road head to moraine camp in less than 1.5 hours and then if that was not quick enough, left moraine camp this morning at 4 am, and some of the team members returned to base camp from the summit four hours later roundtrip.

I guess our cautious acclimatization process is working well. We will spend tonight enjoying the steakhouses of Huaraz and tomorrow pack for our next objective, Chocpicalqui, which stands at nearly 6,400-meters.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #17: August 1, 2014 - Huaraz

We are now back in Huaraz after six nights in the awesome Ishinca Valley for acclimatization purposes. The group made climbs of two 5,500 meter peaks with reaching the summits of Urus Este and Ishinca respectively.

Today we will pack for a lightweight two-day alpine climb of a 5,700-meter peak and this hopefully will have us all ready to go for a large 6,400-meter peak later next week.

The team has been in good health and great spirits the past week. I am very happy to hear that my Cholatse co-leader Sammy Mansikka made the summit and descended safely from K2 this past week. Alan Arnette, who climbed Alpamayo and Manaslu with the Junkies was also successful in reaching the summit of K2, the same day as Sammy. Well done guys.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #16: July 24, 2014 - Huaraz

All of our bags are packed and our kitchen staff are now purchasing last minute supplies for our large team of eleven climbers. The plan is to spend six nights in the Ishinca valley with climbs of Urus and Ishinca to aid our acclimatization for some larger peaks later on in the season.

Tomorrow we will make an early departure for Pashpa and then start the 3-4 hour trek to base camp. The weather has been fantastic the past few days in Huaraz and we have been greeted with amazing views of the Cordillera Blanca each morning from the hotel roof. Let us hope the weather continues to cooperate over the next few weeks.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #15: July 23, 2014 - Huaraz

Our third team have all arrived in Peru with all of their luggage which is a first this season. We are now all in Huaraz getting gear and logistics in place for our first two climbs in the Inshinca Valley for acclimatization purposes.

As with all our climbs this season, we have to be flexible with our objectives, as some of our chosen peaks have been out of condition this year. On the upside is that some of the more fickle peaks that always seem to be out of condition are looking good this season.

Pasang and I have many friends and family climbing on K2 this summer and we want to wish our good friends Sammy and Alan all the best with their respective summit pushes. When we return from the Ishinca Valley we will hopefully get the good news that they have reached the top and descended safely.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #14: July 20, 2014 - Huaraz

We are now all back in Huaraz overdoing it in the restaurants and bars that this fantastic little town has to offer. Tomorrow the team will head to Lima and then the following day will head home to their various countries.

This team has been a blast and I hope that now they have discovered the Cordillera Blanca they will return in the future to try many more climbs.

Pasang Sherpa and I will now spend the next few days getting ready for our third expedition of the season which sees our climbers arrive in Huaraz on the 22nd.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #13: July 18, 2014 - Base Camp

We made a very strong attempt on Tocllaraju but we turned around halfway by a large crevasses and a rickety wooden ladder. We elected to not placing a high camp as the wind has been very strong for several days on the hill. Our team members are so strong that it would have been a waste of time to place a campsite only two hours away from base camp.

Summit day started with a 11 pm departure from base camp and the team had reached the glacier/moraine camp by just after 1 am. A short break with us all gearing up saw us on the glacier by 2 am.

The conditions were cold and windy but we made great progress. Shortly after a steep section of climbing that involved two tools climbing, we encountered a huge crevasse and a home made wooden ladder. Pasang Sherpa and I are very familiar with ladders due to many expeditions on Everest, but this was not in the same league. We all collectively decided that the ladder was too short, too thin and too dangerous for any one of us to try to go over. We all decided is was not worth the risk and we decided to descend.

We reached the edge of the glacier at sunrise and then a few hours later were all back in base camp safely.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #12: July 15, 2014 - Base Camp

The team made another great climb today with an ascent of Ishinca that stands at 5,530 meters. We had originally planned to make a climb of Ranrapalaca but the route we had hoped to climb had a very dry face indeed.

Ishinca is a great climb and we ascended the North West slopes and traversed the mountain with a descent of the South West Ridge. We made an early 1.30 am departure from base camp and we reached the summit at exactly sunrise. It was a very windy last hour near the summit so we did not spend much time there at all. All the team members joined each other at the edge of the glacier to celebrate our second summit of the trip.

We will now spend a few days resting and then head to Tocllaraju for our third and final club in the Ishinca Valley.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #11: July 12, 2014 - Base Camp

Today we left base camp at 4 am for a climb on Urus Este that stands at 5,420 meters. A nice warm up climb with very interesting rock sections to be surpassed near the summit. We had great weather and were able to have all the Junkies members and staff together on the summit.

The team made a quick descent to base camp where our head cook, Juvencio, took care of us on our return. We will take tomorrow off as a rest day and then plan our next climb.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #10: July 9, 2014 - Base Camp

We all arrived at base camp after only three hours of trekking from Pashpa. This team is very strong and we all got settled into base camp life with our first happy hour looking at the majestic Tocllaraju.

We will spend the next few days letting our bodies adjust to the altitude and then will make an acclimatization climb of Urus Este.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #9: July 7, 2014 - Huaraz

I met with the team in Lima on Saturday night and we discussed our options for the Huascaran climb with the present conditions that many teams are discovering. We decided to discuss it more in depth when we reached Huaraz.

As with our first expedition, LAN Airways once again lost a team members bag on route to Lima. Luckily we located the bag and were able to pick it up from the airport on the way to Huaraz. Then we had to deal with a damaged tire on our minibus that needed replacing and several more stops to make sure the wheel was correctly fitted. We finally arrived in Huaraz early evening after a long day on the road.

I was hoping that when we entered Huaraz we would be greeted by the majestic peaks of the Cordillera Blanca but unfortunately dark clouds covered most of the range. Our team members were blessed with great conditions the following morning and were all in awe of the view from the rooftop.

The team have excitedly now decided to go to the Ishinca Valley and make a climbs of Ishinca for acclimatization and then attempt the 6,000 meter plus peaks of Tocllaraju and Ranrapalaca instead of Huascaran.

Last night we enjoyed our group dinner at El Fogon and then sampled several Pisco Sours at Cafe Andino to finish the evening off. We will now enjoy a couple of relaxing days in Huaraz before heading to Pashpa on the 9th for the trek to base camp.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #8: July 5, 2014 - Huaraz

Our second Huascaran group is now arriving in Lima and will drive to Huaraz tomorrow. Another international group consists of climbers from Canada, United States and the United Kingdom.

The weather has been usual for this time of year in the Cordillera Blanca and the area has received some rain in Huaraz and snow in the mountains.

Conditions on Huascaran Sur and Norte have not been great this season, compared to last year when conditions were ideal. With this in mind we may switch our objective to another peak or peaks. We will decide collectively as a group what to climb when we are all in Huaraz.

Even though Huascaran is being problematic with conditions and weather this season, the majority of other peaks are receiving summits. Pasang Ongcho Sherpa and myself made a quick excursion from Huaraz on Thursday with a Friday morning summit of Huamashraju at 5,434 meters. A very nice climb with snow and ice up to 70 degrees and some rock thrown in to make it interesting.

Let us hope the weather improves for our second group of the season.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #7: June 28, 2014 - Base Camp

We aborted our summit push after receiving 12 inches of snow in a couple of hours at camp one. The team descended to base camp as the snow was still falling heavily. Huascaran Norte is notorious for avalanches so we did not wish to take any chances even though each climber is wearing an avalanche beacon.

The bad weather continued on the 27th and the snow kept falling in the afternoon. We received a hailstorm at base camp that produces hailstones the size of dimes.

Our only option now is to descend to Musho on the 29th and drive to Huaraz where they are also experiencing some very strange weather this season.

Lets hope this bad weather has passed in time for our second expedition of the season which sees the climbers arrive in Lima on July 5th.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #6: June 26, 2014 - Base Camp

Heavy winds are still hitting the summit and camp two but we have decided to make a summit push never the less. The plan is to climb from base camp direct to camp one, skipping moraine camp in the process. Hopefully we then will climb direct from camp one to the summit skipping camp two. If lucky with the weather we will most likely use camp two for the night on descent.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #5: June 24, 2014 - Base Camp

After two nights at camp one in very strong winds and snow, today the team has decided to descend to base camp for some serious R & R.

We will spend a rest day here at base camp tomorrow and then decide on what the next course of action will be.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #4: June 22, 2014 - Camp One

We spent last night at moraine camp and today pushed ahead to camp one which is located at 5,350 meters. The campsite is quite exposed and receives string winds a lot of the time.

Our team members are still very strong and made the climb from moraine camp to camp one in between two to three hours. The plan is to spend two nights here for acclimatization and then move to camp two the day after.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #3: June 20, 2014 - Base Camp

We made the one hour walk to moraine camp at an elevation of 4,700 meters. We dropped some loads in the safe hands of the caretaker of the refugio hut, sampled some of his offerings and then headed back to base camp.

We met the Czech Republic K2 expedition who are on Huascaran acclimatizing for their big Pakistan objective. They told us they tried twice to find a safe route up Huascaran Sur but unfortunately dangerous seracs and large crevasses have blocked their route. I personally know some of these six climbers so we took their advice in good stead and will most likely make an attempt on Huascaran Norte in a few days going on their findings.

This group is extremely quick and I am hoping the weather holds and we can make some speedy progress on this hill in the next few days.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #2: June 18, 2014 - Base Camp

Our international Huascaran team consisting of climbers from Nepal, Peru, UK, USA, Italy and Denmark made the one and a half hour drive to Musho to start the trek to base camp. After a three-hour trek we arrived at Huascaran base camp at an elevation of 4,200 meters.

Once our mules arrived we erected our kitchen, dining dome and individual members sleeping tents. After camp was established first order of business for the evening was happy hour.

Tomorrow we will take a rest day and then the day after make a carry to moraine camp.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #1: June 16, 2014 - Huaraz

We have started our summer season in the Cordillera Blanca with the first of our Junkies Huascaran expeditions.

Lost luggage, delayed flights and unfavorable world cup soccer results have been the topic of conversation for the past few days amongst our international team.

We all arrived in Lima on our scheduled days but not on our scheduled times. Pasang had the longest flight to get here and after four connecting flights he finally arrived in Lima albeit without his luggage. Luckily the folks at LAN got their act together and we were able to pick up his bags from the airport yesterday before we drove to Huaraz.

The weather has been great here in Huaraz and we have been enjoying some of the many sidewalk cafes with their local cuisine. Today Pasang and I packed the gear needed from our Huaraz storeroom and tomorrow we will assist our cook Juvencio, along with Alex and Carlos getting all the food packed for base camp.

Our favorite Huaraz digs, Casa de Zarela, is busy as always with climbers of many different nationalities heading to and coming back from climbs in the Cordillera Blanca. It seems as if the climbing has taken a back seat at the moment as the world cup continues to dominate the dining area throughout the day and evening with the many games being shown on the large screen TV.

Next stop will be Huascaran base camp on the 18th and then we will start our acclimatization rotations on the 20th with a carry to moraine camp and returning to base camp for the evening.

Phil Crampton

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