Yanapaccha

This afternoon, I’ve returned after a journey of 3 days to Huaraz. As part of the preparation of the Alpamayo climb, I’ve spent the last 3 days on Yanapaccha, a 5460 meter high mountain in the Cordillera Blanca.

The journey started with a 4 hour drive from Huaraz to the starting point of the hike to the moraine camp at the base of Yanapaccha. The drive started on proper road but after a while the van turned on to a dirt road that took us past incredible views of the surrounding mountains and endless sharp turns to an altitude of 4600 meter. There, we were awaited by our donkey driver that brought our equipment to the moraine camp.

After a light lunch, I continued the journey on foot. About two hours later I arrived at a little lake that looked very inviting for a plunge. However, considering this little lake is fed by glacial water of 1 degree centigrade, I decided to resist the temptation and set up my tent. The cook and the rest of the crew arrived as well and an hour later, I could enjoy tea and cookies. The rest of the day, I limited my activities to the bare minimum to save energy for the following day.

At 3 am my alarm went off. We had agreed to have breakfast and 3.30 and to leave at 4 am. I had another 560 meters to climb to the summit of Yanapaccha. My oxygen saturation was only 78 when I woke up. That was likely a consequence of the short but steep acclimatization approach of the last couple of days and the jet lag that had disrupted my sleep. I decided not to rush my summit attempt as there was no hurry.

After a short walk, we arrived a the glacier were we put on crampons, harness and helmet. The three of us (Doug, Manuel and me) all tied ourselves to each other as well to continue the climb. The first hour we turned between and over crevasses. Then we turned the other direction to climb up underneath a series of seracs. While we did that, then sun sent a beautiful red morning glow over the mountains in our direction.

When we had about 100 meters to go to the summit, we chose for a direct route to the ridge. To get to that ridge, we had to ice climb 50 vertical meters. Nice and a good preparation for the Alpamayo where we will need to climb 500 vertical meters like this. The last 50 vertical meters to the summit were more gradual again and finally we reached the summit at 07.30 am where we could enjoy a fantastic view of the biggest peaks of the Cordillera Blanca.

The descent went smooth. First we rappelled and then we descended further the same way we came up over the glacier to the moraine camp where we were waited by the cook with a bowl of delicious soup.

This morning we broke up camp and returned back to the road head where our car driver was waiting for us and our donkey driver was leaving us. In the meantime, I’ve returned to Huaraz where I could enjoy a hot shower. Tomorrow is a rest day. Rest days are important to let the acclimatization of the last couple of days have its impact on my body. Saturday morning, I will head out again for the real goals of this trip: the climb of Alpamayo.

The plan for next weeks looks like this:

  • Saturday: Huaraz – Llamacorral camp (3750 meter)

  • Sunday: Llamacorral camp – base camp (4350 meter)

  • Monday: Base camp – High camp (5300 meter)

  • Tuesday: High camp – summit – high camp

  • Wednesday: extra day to reach the summit of descent to base camp

  • Thursday: descent to base camp or return to Huaraz

  • Friday: return to Huaraz or restday in Huaraz

As usual, you will be able to track my progress on the map on the Alpamayo dashboard. I’ve also added a few photos of the last couple of days below.