July 5, 2007
Condoriri Climb Day 3
I was delighted today when I got to sleep in all the way till 1:00 AM. The moon was no longer full, but it was still high in the sky this time of night, almost eliminating the need for a flashlight, and giving us a great view of the Cabeza del Condor. Pedro, Teo, and I had a meager breakfast and left as soon as we could. Once again not a creature was stirring in the high camp.
The path was much easier to follow today with no rock slides. We just kept walking uphill for about forty-five minutes until we reached the snow. Pedro struggled to get to the point where we put on our crampons, and decided not to push any further. He must have had the flu or a bad cold, because he didn't think he had the energy to go up any higher. I felt really bad for him because he paid for this trip, but I think he took it really well. He's been all around the world and done a lot of climbing, so turning back must have been tough for him.
Teo and I put on our crampons and started climbing up. The path was pure ice at first, but soon it turned into tightly packed snow. The face we were climbing resembled a large ski hill with no powder. It was really wide and kept going straight up as far as I could see. There were a few large crevasses in the way, but they were easy to either walk around or step over.
After a few hours of steady walking, we reached the top of Pico Tarija, a small mountain on the way to Pequeno Alpamayo, the mountain we were trying to climb. From that point we could finally see our final goal for the day. When I saw it, I thought it didn't look as small as its name would suggest. From that point, we had to remove our crampons and climb about 100 meters down the rock wall of the other side of Pico Tarija.
At the bottom of Pico Tarija we were ready for the summit push. Some parts were steep, but not nearly as much as the other mountains I had recently climbed. It wasn't too difficult to climb, and before I knew it, we were at the summit, with about ten minutes to spare before sunrise.
True to form, Teo immediately had to call his friend to let him know he was at the summit. I guess there's good reception from the tops of mountains. I sat around looking at all the other peaks in the area and felt like a king, perched at the top of my kingdom. I imagined that there were people getting to the tops of all the other mountains I saw at about the same time, and that they were surveying their kingdoms as well.
We stayed at the top again for awhile, watched the sun come up over the world, then started to head back down. At the bottom of Pequeno Alpamayo, we had to climb back up the rock face of Pico Tarija, then started heading back down again. While walking down the glacier, we passed a German group with no guide and apparently lots of experience, but they were coming up a little late, and they were walking up the glacier with no crampons for some reason. Maybe they wanted a little extra challenge.
From the bottom of the glacier, the walking was easy and were were back at base camp by 9:00. I was tired, but not completely exhausted like I was yesterday. I still had to sleep most of the day, though. Later on, many other groups began showing up, many of whom were also climbers, but a lot were trekking through the region as well. This time I didn't have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night and was actually able to socialize with the people at the camp until maybe 7:00.
The photo album for this entry is here.