Getting high in the Peruvian Andes

Location: Cordillera Blanca, Peruvian Andes
Date: July 2008
Duration: 21 days

A selection of photos from a 21 day mountaineering trip to the Cordillera Blanca range of the Peruvian Andes.

It was a great adventure – the mountains were superb alpine challenges and the valley culture provided a fascinating backdrop to our climbs (20 photos total):

1. Nevado Huascaran, 6746m Our objective for the trip was to climb Huascaran, seen here dominating the skyline beyond the town of Huaraz.
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2. Sunrise on Ranrapalca We watched the sun rise and slowly illuminate the face of Ranrapalca on the opposite side of the valley. We were trying to climb Nevado Urus, a 5,000m peak, as a warm up before an attempt on Huascaran.
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3. My brother, Peter Descending Nevado Urus. Having suffered from the altitude and been hampered by the deep snow we never made the summit.
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4. Yours truly
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5. Cairn on Huascaran Low down on the rocky approach to the glaciers of Huascaran, our way marked by cairns.
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6. Scrambling up the rocks Steven (L) and Peter (R) climbing up the exposed slabs to advanced base camp. The rucsacs were incredibly heavy with all the mountaineering gear and nearly a week’s worth of food. Spirits high though!
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7. Advanced Base Camp The snow was bad news as it would mean avalanches were more likely higher on the mountain. Consequently we felt our chances of summiting slipping away as the snow fell and fell.
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8. Onto the glacier Peter (L) and Steven (R) climbing onto the glacier, moving from Advanced base camp to Camp 1 at 5,250m.
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9. Cup of snow Camp 1, 5,300m high, and it was baking hot when we arrived; there was only one thing for it, a cup of snow!
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10. Stormy sunset A portent of things to come. It was an amazing sunset to witness but full of ominous signs for the mountaineer. Sure enough, during the night, it snowed heavily.
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11. Camp 1 in the snow We had to dig ourselves out of our half-buried tent the following morning. Any summit attempt was out of the question. Down we went then. ‘Twas a great adventure though.
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12. On the descent Descending the glacier in thick fog.
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13. Final roll of the dice We had just enough time left for one final climb – a 2 day attempt on Vallunaraju, 5686m. Here we are low on the glacier, still experiencing deep snow.
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14. Amongst the crevasses HIgher up the conditions improved and we romped along amongst the enormous and awe-inspiring crevasses.
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15. Victory Finally we summit something! Standing on the top of Vallunaraju with its superb 360 panorama remains one of my top mountain experiences.
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16. Climbers on the summit ridge Two Norwegian climbers were about an hour behind us on climb. I took this shot of them nearing the summit as we descended.
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17. Self-portrait
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18. Down climbing Down climbing one of the steep ice pitches between crevasses on the glacier.
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19. The final rocky step This was the last technical section of the climb – it was actually fairly straightforward and very short.
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20. Dinner Well, we had to try the local delicacy! Tasted pretty good but there isn’t that much meat on those guinea pigs…
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