Technical climbing info
- Mountain: Huarapasca
- Elevation: 5,420m
- Route: South Route
- Length: 700m
- Grade: AD+, AI4
Huarapasca is a hidden gem of the Cordillera Blanca. Not appearing in any guide books and out of sight from pretty much anywhere, this amazing climb sits relatively untouched. It is also one of the very few single day climbs in the range that can be done car-to-car.
It’s such a good and accessible route that even though I climbed it in 2017, I was psyched to come back to it again 2 years later. Plus, last time I climbed it was during a whiteout. I hoped that this time I could maybe actually see what the peak looked like for more than just the photos I saw posted by others to the Mountain Project page I created for the peak.
The car showed up at our hotel at 2:30am, with the goal to arrive at the trailhead by 5am. And by “trailhead”, I mean side of the road. It was pretty obvious that Nacho was feeling pretty sick. Usually being a very talkative guy, he plunked down on his seat and zipped up his jacket. As we parked and drank some tea, I deliberated with him if he felt good enough to go up. In the end, he said “I’m here, I’ll go check it out”. I told him I’d at least haul the gear.
Getting to the bottom of the moraine, we could actually spot a couple climbers on the wall. Pretty unexpected for a hidden climb off the side of highway in the middle of who-knows-where. I knew that seeing other climbers, Nacho wouldn’t bail. He hurried up to the face trailing the untied rope behind him. Jess and I caught up, tied in, and began simulclimbing the first 3 pitches of steep dry ice.
My heavy Diamox dose kicked in at some point mid-simulclimb and I felt like all the hydration from my body got vacuumed out. I was in bad need of water. Bad, bad need. I kept on thinking “just a little bit more”, but eventually I didn’t have a little bit more. I scraped my way up in poor form to the next screw and clipped in. I pulled out my pack and reached for the water. I gulped down a half liter. Ahhh.
Jessica was not too far behind me and I could see she that she was coming in with good form. It was good news that we were both acclimatizing well. We had only been above sea level for 6 days now.
We moved relatively quickly up the ice, reaching a little plateau for a much needed break. We dumped a bucket-load of Gu and Honey Stinger gels into our bodies to keep us on full octane. After a very late start, it was now getting late and we didn’t want to test the rappel anchors in the hot day. Our break didn’t last long.
We pushed through the last two steep sections, a little more slowly now. We were tired. We were quiet. Our moods weren’t the best. Jess and I were still in a bit of “altitude shock”. Nacho sickness was really catching up to him. Being the perkiest of the bunch (as usual with any group), I playHuaed cheerleader for the remainder for the climb.
Stepping onto the summit, the team was in silence. I encouraged everybody to take a couple group selfies- “I know everybody feels like shit but we’ll be happy we have these later!”. Everybody used the last of their energy to put on a possibly-fake smile. 😀
We spent a few minutes refueling and made our way through the no-nonsense descent. After untangling the rope for a solid 10 minutes (if Nacho could strangle the rope, I think he would have), rappel after rappel, we made our way down. We took a sigh of relief once we made it back down to the moraine but didn’t take time to hang out. The car was waiting, along with a hot shower and meal in Huaraz.
Up next, Yanapaccha via the West Face
“Yanapaccha is another one of the lower altitude and lower difficulty peaks that I have been wanting to climb for a little while. With the funky schedule in the Cordillera Blanca this year, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to knock this one out.” [read full, Yanapaccha via the West Face]