Bolivian Peaks Expedition News 4th July 2009.
The Team Leader : Stu Peacock
The Team: Shaun Crawford Jon Egdell
Cath Milnes David Wilson
23rd July – SUMMIT SUCCESS – ‘We´ve just arrived back from a very cold and snowy Illimani. The day we arrived at Illimani Base Camp the clouds had grown dark and menacing with the tops hidden from view. At 6.30pm that night the wind really picked up threatening to blow down many of the tents at base camp, it started to snow, which was a big surprise to all. The weather didn´t relent until around 6.30am the following morning when we awoke to a white vista across the base camp plain. We soon discovered that the 40 or so climbers at high camp had all abandoned their summit attempt and were heading down.
At 9am we were reunited with Cath who had had to stay behind in La Paz to sort out her passport. She´d travelled through the early hours and trekked into BC in super quick time in order to have a crack at Illimani, a long journey with another long trek to go to high camp, this was going to be a hard task. Soon after we set off for High Camp and en route passed many a demoralised climber coming down saying how bad it had been and that it needed several days for the snow to clear before there would be any chance of success.
The weather for the day looked good even though a bit cold, and the wind last night was very strong, so could the snow have had chance to stick? The drifts looked big but the exposed areas looked scoured. We crossed our fingers that the weather would hold and made our way to High Camp.
When we arrived at High Camp it was obvious that nobody had even attempted to head up for the summit day, no footprints above the camp at all. We ended the day with a fantastic sunset and the distant lights of La Paz slowly coming to life. We agreed an early start should we find the going hard work.
It was a cold morning and trying to get people moving at 3am is not the easiest of tasks. Apart from the AP team there were only two other climbers who would be going for the summit this morning. Cath decided that she was happy enough in her warm sleeping bag and decided that she wasn´t going to make her attempt on Illimani, the long day before and a fitfull nights sleep had not made things easy.
Eventually the rest of the team were ready and we headed out at 3.45am, Cecilio our local guide led the way into the darkness, as suspected the route was a mixture of hard compacted snow in the exposed areas and soft wind slab in the sheltered areas. We made good progress until we hit our first set of crevasses, crossing the crevasses proved to be realtively easy work, but the headwall behind was something else. With a lot of digging to find decent ice for anchors and forging trenches we were able to make slow progess up and across the headwall onto the plateau. The final 30 metres required good swimming skills through the powder rather than climbing technique.
Once up on the plateau things became a lot easier and we soon worked our way upwards towards the summit ridge. Eventually after zig zagging our way up a broad ridge we came out on to the final approach to the summit. The wind was bitterly cold, relentless all the way until the last 300m it slowly fell away as did the land beneath us. After six and three quater hours Jon and myself finally reached the summit of Illimani, David and Cecilio about 15 minutes behind. Well done to all the team it´s been a fantastic trip especially bagging the extra peak of Illusionata.’ Regards, Stu.
19th July – The team are now back from Huyana Potosi having reached the summit at 10.00am Bolivian time.
17th July – We´re back in La Paz for one night before heading out for Huyana Potosi. We spotted an icefall over to the left side of the snout of the glacier, so the first rest day the clients wanted to have a play at ice climbing so we set up a bottom rope and practised our skills. After myself, Cath & Jon climbed Pequeno Alpamayo we had the second rest day, which allowed myself and Cecillio to go and have a look at Illusion. We chose a route up to the glacier of Illusionata, from there to the glacier of Illusion is a short awkward rocky section that needs to be protected with a rope in ascent and descent. The glacier is straight forward and similar in difficulty to the steepest bit of Pequeno Alpamayo after that there is a short rock step to overcome and then the final easy snow slope to the top. After a discussion, David decided he would be more comfortable climbing Illusionata with Cecilio with its short ice pitch followed by a really nice rocky ridge to an impressivley overhanging summit cairn. We kept the team together up to the Illusionata glacier then went our seperate ways. We kept in touch by radio and both summitted at the same time at 11am. The team are all well and very pleased with their achievements so far. Stu
14th July – Cath, Jon & Stu all climbed Tarija & Pequeno Alpamayo yesterday. David & Cecilio turned around just before the summit of Tarija. Today was a rest day but Stu and Cecilio went for a little jaunt up Illusion to recee the route for the following day. Neither of them are competative but 2.75 hours from Base Camp at around AD+ is pretty good going. Cecilio also knocked off Illusionata while checking out the ice pitch. Tomorrow Stu and David will attempt Illusionata and Cathy & Jon will head fro Illusion with Cecilio
10th July – “We arrived at Base Camp yesterday after a 3 hour bimble from Tuni. The views are spectacular. You can get a phone signal just 10 mins out of base camp if you are on the right network. Unfortunately I’m not, but the local guide is. So we managed to contact Alex at 4pm yesterday to see how Shaun was doing. All the team were sad to hear he won’t be re-joining us, but glad that he’s ok and in good hands. Base camp has flushing toilets !!!!! What more can we ask for other than the weather staying calm. Food is good and Anna the cook is making sure everyone is eating well. Cecilio the local guide is a nice bloke and we are getting on swimmingly.We climbed much disputed first peak today. Our itinerary and most other companies has this as Point Austria at a height of 5100m. Well I can confirm that this is rubbish. Even the local guides call it Point Austria. Using the good old GPS and a rather good map of Cecilio’s, the peak we climbed doesn’t have a name, but relating it to one of the guide books it’s called Mirador and is 5328m according to the map and 5359m according to the GPS. So that’s answered that long unanswered question. Point Austria is miles away!Tomorrow we headout onto the glacier to climb Pyramid Blanca, we’ll climb as a 2 and a 3. I think I’ve drawn the short straw as Cecilio is using his own 30m rope, while I have to lug the 60m! although I’m a firm believer in sharing the burden.The team are doing really well, good steady pace today got us to the top of Mirador in 3 hours. I took the laptop with me to see how it fared at 5300m and it seemed to be fine. I’ve taken lots of pics of the area so plenty to show back home.Toodle pip for now, Stu.”
9th July – Stu emailed to say Shaun had been suffering from a headache which hadn’t cleared overnight and he has sent him back to La Paz to see a Doctor. He has since been diagnosed with pneumonia and will spend a couple of days in hospital before returning to the UK. We wish him a speedy recovery.
8th July – “We’re now camping at Tuni (4440m according to Stu’s GPS). We are all doing well and having a great time. Did an acclimatization walk up to 4600m this afternoon. We’ve met up with our Guide, Cicelio and at the moment our cook, Anna, is making dinner.We have a lie in tomorrow but suspect we will be woken up early by the daylight and the donkeys wandering around around outside the tents.” Cath Milne “We met our guide Vincent at 8am and headed down to the beach to catch a boat to the Northern end of Isla del Sol, the boat journey took around 2 hours and was a little chilly despite the sun beating down. Once ashore we visited the local museum and saw some of the artifacts that had been retrieved from the lake. After leaving the Museum we headed up out of the village towards some of the ancient Inca ruins and Puma rock. We then headed South traversing the length of the island and staying above 4000m for most of the trek, we also decided to bag the odd peak along the way. Eventually we made our way down to Yumani at the Southern end of the lake,passing several weary and out of breath tourists heading up the steep steps from the Southern jetty. We also took in a quick visit to an ancient Inca temple South of Yumani before heading back to Copacabana. Stu”
7th July – “We’re now in Copacabana. We got some great views of Illampu, Condoriri , Huayna Potosi and Illimani on the drive out from La Paz. We checked in at the Hotel Utama and had lunch, really nice Trout local from Lake Titicaca. We then had our first acclimatisation bimble up Cerro Calvario which took us to 3966m, where we got some spectacular views out across the lake to Isla del Sol, which is tomorrows objective. After that we headed into town and down to the shoreline, before back up to the cathedral, very ornate interior.We head out around 7.30am tomorrow. We catch a boat to the south of the island and then traverse over to the north, this get us over the 4000m mark, lot’s of sight seeing along the way. We will then catch a boat from the north back to Copacabana. Stu”
21st June – The group will depart the UK on the 4th July.