Adventures In Peru – Nevado Solimana Recon Trip

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Ever since our failed summit try of Nevado Solimana final November, my climbing buddies and I’ve been speaking about making an attempt it once more. We have set a few tentative dates, however they have not labored out for one motive or one other. As I stay close to the mountain, my associates from Lima had requested me to keep watch over it and ship them pictures of the climbing route. This week, I lastly bought the time to hike as much as the mountain to see what the route regarded like and take some pictures.

On Monday I made plans for a 3 day backpacking journey, leaving on Tuesday morning. I had invited my buddy Max to go together with me, however on the final minute he needed to again out resulting from work. I had wished to start hiking from Cotahuasi, which is at 8,800 toes; that will make a acquire of about 8,00zero toes in elevation. However once I realized that the weekly Sanchez bus for Lima can be leaving Cotahuasi Tuesday morning at about 8:30, I made a decision to take that to Visca Grande. Visca Grande is a junction the place the outdated foot and animal path crosses the present gravel highway between Cotahuasi and Chuquibamba, and is the traditional beginning place for climbing Solimana for these touring by bus. This would additionally save me an estimated eight or 9 hours of mountaineering time and 6,526 toes of elevation acquire. For a price of 5 soles ($1.60), it appeared value it

The bus lastly left Cotahuasi at 9:00 am, and fortunately it wasn’t stuffed with Lima passengers, so I used to be capable of get a seat. At 10:45 I used to be waving goodbye to the bus as I stood on a sand flat at 15,328 toes (4,672 m.). A couple of minutes later, slightly increased up, wanting southeast I might see two of the peaks of Nevado Coropuna, and looking out south, the north peak of Solimana. The really helpful path to Solimana is to observe a path west to the Soro River, after which observe the river to its supply, which is the glacier on Solimana. I had hiked from the junction of the path and the river, to the highway final November when my automotive broke down, and remembered it taking a few hours. I could not see any sense in going that far west, when Solimana was south of me. I had finished slightly exploring a couple of days earlier on my drive to Cotahuasi, and it regarded prefer it was potential to hike cross-nation on to Solimana.

The entire excessive plain right here is volcanic sand with scattered rocks and boulders, with slightly very hardy vegetation. It will not be flat, there are various gullies and hills, and occasional canyons that may be fairly deep. However from my earlier reconnaissance, I did not see any issues that will stop a cross-nation route. The sand is kind of coarse and agency, and could be very simple to stroll on, in contrast to regular comfortable seaside sand. I began off in a barely southwesterly path, understanding that there was a low mountain between me and Solimana that I wished to go round on the west finish. The wind was slightly cool, however with a brisk tempo and an total mild elevation acquire within the sizzling solar, it made for good mountaineering circumstances.

At about 1:30, I used to be simply above a shallow bowl the place I used to be delighted to see 5 vicuñas grazing. There had been very timid and despite the fact that I attempted to skirt round in entrance of them, I could not get close to them for a superb image. I did get an important view of Solimana, by means of a saddle within the mountain ridge that I used to be going round. The vicuñas truly led me up round the appropriate finish of the ridge, and headed off in the direction of the east finish of Solimana. At the highest of the ridge, I bought a parting glimpse of the highway to Cotahuasi and distant mountains on the opposite facet of the canyon, and in addition Nevado Firura, my subsequent climbing aim. Ahead of me was the half circle of the Solimana summits, with the glacier nestled within the bowl. There was a excessive ridge between us, however lastly after Three hours and 45 minutes, I used to be finally on a path. It was solely a faint animal path, nevertheless it was simple to see and was headed across the hill, so I made a decision to observe it.

At 3:05, I might see the Soro River crossing in entrance of me, and the junction with the highway (close to the traditional path) manner off to the west of me, so was very pleased with my cross-nation route. I’m certain it will need to have saved me a few hours and was a simple hike. After happening and crossing the slim river, I began the climb up the ridge on the appropriate facet of the river in the direction of the glacier. By now I might see that I used to be going to need to go all the best way to the glacier to get the route pictures that I wished, which prompted a brand new plan to hatch in my thoughts. I remembered studying that one of many three peaks of Solimana had no reported summit climbs. I used to be considering that it was the height on the appropriate, which is the bottom of the three. The center peak is the true summit, which is separated from the north peak by a pointy however comparatively quick ridge. The regular route goes as much as the ridge between the 2 peaks.

The peak on the appropriate, the west summit, gave the impression to be largely snow free on the north facet the place I used to be, so I made a decision to see if it was climbable. I hadn’t deliberate on climbing the mountain, so after all I did not have my ice axe, crampons and even my heavy gloves. I might see two potential routes, the snow-free north route, and one other one from the east, beginning above the glacier. It was partly hidden by a minor peak, however what I might see of it was coated in snow. However it was not as steep because the north route, so I made a decision I ought to at the least test it out within the morning and see what it regarded like. But the necessary factor now was to get camp arrange earlier than it bought darkish. It was now 5:30 and the solar was already behind a ridge, and at 17,711 toes, it was getting chilly quick. The solar did make a phenomenal glow excessive up on the east ridge, which leads as much as the north summit, which after all gave me concepts for a future ridge route try.

Of extra instant concern although, was a indisputable fact that I had realized earlier within the afternoon, that I had forgotten to carry my trekking poles. It wasn’t an enormous deal mountaineering with out them, however additionally they double as my tent poles! Of course there had not been a stick or department in sight after I bought off the bus at over 15,00zero toes. I had been contemplating utilizing my tent like a bivy sack, however knew that the within can be coated with frost within the morning, in order that wasn’t an interesting choice. The one factor I did have was rocks of all sizes and kinds – together with flat stackable ones and enormous boulders. I made a decision {that a} boulder was the most suitable choice, and shortly discovered an appropriate one on the finish of a slim flat sandy space. I bought the tent arrange, it was low and lopsided, nevertheless it labored.

Not wanting frozen palms within the morning, I slept in till after the solar began melting the frost on my tent, after which after breakfast bought an un-alpine begin at 8:00 am. It was a phenomenal morning, and was warming up quickly, particularly with the climbing starting in earnest. Another small downside was that I hadn’t introduced my sun shades, as I by no means put on them when mountaineering, and I hadn’t deliberate on being within the snow. Fortunately there was a rocky ridge to the appropriate of the glacier, with only some patches of snow on it. It did make it laborious to admire the gorgeous views off to my left although, as I climbed up above the glacier. After getting the route pictures for my associates, I checked out the east snow-coated path to the west summit. It was certainly all snow, and wasn’t overly steep, however with the penitentes (sharp fragile snow spikes) and no sun shades, it was out of the query.

I went again all the way down to the extra direct north route, which was a steep chute of scree, and regarded for one of the best ways up. It regarded just like the most secure route was to skirt the rocky left fringe of the chute, which appeared to go many of the manner as much as the bottom of the height. While wanting on the route, I rested a bit and ate a snack, at 18,610 toes. At 10:34 I began up the scree, looking for the most important and most strong rocks to make use of for foot and hand holds. It wasn’t too tough going up, however I wasn’t certain about coming down the identical manner. However over in the course of the chute it was freed from rocks and regarded like it might be a simple slide down.

Just earlier than reaching the narrowest a part of the chute, I used to be tempted to depart the scree and climb up a 10-foot rock face. However I could not see what was above it so determined to traverse over and proceed up the chute. When I bought up above that I used to be glad I had not climbed up the rocks, as one slip above them and it might have been like sliding down a ski leap, with a really tough touchdown. By now I might see the true west summit, which had been hiding behind a decrease peak when wanting from down under. I used to be dissatisfied to see that it had fairly a little bit of snow within the cracks and on the rocks. Even with out the snow, I’m certain there would have been harder mountain climbing than I’d have been capable of do alone, and particularly with none climbing gear. After wanting on the views over the ridge to the south, I dropped my pack and hiked up so far as I used to be comfy. My GPS confirmed 19,267 toes, and I used to be most likely a few hundred toes under the summit.

The views had been nice nonetheless, I bought a superb take a look at the north peak and the true summit, which is 19,990 toes. It was very clear that making an attempt to achieve the summit by following the sharp ridge from the place I used to be was not an choice, at the least for me. Also the rock climb as much as the summit on the south facet regarded far more tough than it did from down on the glacier. Which leaves the usual route up a gully, which does not have a lot snow in it, making it more durable to climb.

At 12:30 I used to be sliding again down the rock chute, previous the needle, standing tall like a guard, which proved to be a really fast and simple manner down. An hour and 15 minutes later I used to be again at my camp, able to pack up and head residence. I reluctantly bought some extra milky water from the Soro river once I crossed that. There had been a few good flat tenting spots on the best way again to Visca Grande, however I knew that there can be no water till a couple of hours past that. At 4:30 I used to be wanting down into the bowl the place I had seen the vicuñbecause the day earlier than, which was additionally the place I had considered tenting. It was nonetheless too early to cease although, so I continued on, following the same cross-nation route just like the day earlier than.

I noticed the vicuñas once more, however from even farther away then earlier than. Around 6:00 pm I discovered a few flat locations that will have made good campsites, however they had been missing the boulder I must arrange my tent with out the entrance poles. I used to be shut sufficient to Visca Grande that I made a decision to proceed on to there, as there was additionally a rock shelter there just like the llama herders use. I bought there simply earlier than darkish, solely to search out that for some motive it had been piled full of huge rocks. However there was a boulder alongside the highway that was appropriate to make use of, so I set my tent up and bought a superb evening’s sleep, decidedly hotter at “only” 15,328 toes.

I most likely might have gotten a journey again to Cotahuasi in a truck that handed by, however I wished to stroll again on the outdated path, and see if it was appropriate for mountain biking. Look for that story within the subsequent report.

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