Up one level Peru - Cordillera Huayhuash and Blanca, 11 June to 3 July 2007 » Ishinca (5530 m / 18,143 ft) - Northwest slopes

Ishinca (5530 m / 18,143 ft) - Northwest slopes

After returning from the Cordillera Huayhuash, I met Jared Brown in Huaraz to climb in the Ishinca valley. We left Huaraz at 830 am on 27th June, hiked into base camp (3 - 4 hours), set up camp, and got ready to climb Ishinca the following morning. We planned to climb Ishinca and Tocllaraju during our four days in the Ishinca valley.

For the Ishinca valley, we hired a cook and a kitchen/dining tent since the premium of hiring a cook and dining tent over hiring just a camp guardian and obtaining tent for him was only about 20 or 30 dollars a day. In return, we had fresh (and pretty tasty) food and a constant supply of hot drinks and snacks, plus we didn't have to do any cooking or cleaning.

We got up at 2 am on the 28th, had eggs, bread, and hot tea for breakfast (another perk of hiring a cook), and started hiking up to the glacier around 240 am. It was initially quite warm and I hiked in my base layers. Once we hit the toe of the glacier at around 5, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped rapidly. We also turned off the trail too early and scrambled cross country on the left side of the valley to the glacier; later in the day, we realised that the trail leads directly to the toe of the glacier, which would have saved us 30 - 45 minutes if we had taken the trail instead. We spent half an hour putting on our boots (I hiked in running shoes all the way to the glacier, which turned out to be a great idea and I did the same for Tocllaraju), crampons, and roping up, all the time shivering and warming our cold fingers. On hindsight, leaving at 4 am would have been a better idea. Since Jared outweighed me by about 30 or 40 lbs, we agreed that he would be in front while ascending glaciated terrain and I would be in front for the descents.

From the glacier, the climb was quite straightforward with nothing steeper than 30 or 40 degrees except for 20 or 30 meters of the initial slope up the glacier and the final 25 or 30 meters to the summit, both of which were around 45 degrees. There was also a short 10 foot nearly vertical ice step that led to the summit slopes but that was relatively easy. Sunrise on Ishinca was quite spectacular; we saw the nearby summits of Ranrapalca and Ocshapalca gleaming in the morning sun with a pastel coloured sky as the backdrop.

We reached the summit at 8 am and spent an hour there alone before a guided group reached the summit, upon which we descended, getting back to base camp around 1140 am. From the summit, we also saw the new flight to Huaraz from Lima flying over us on the way to the airport. We had originally toyed with the idea of climbing Urus instead of taking a rest day while in the valley, but after seeing Urus on the way down from Ishinca and realising that it was 95% hiking on poor trails and only 5% glacier travel, we decided against it. Ishinca was a fun climb, great views, and a great start to our climbing trip.

_mg_2039 Loading the donkeys in Pashpa for the hike into Ishinca base camp. _mg_2044 Tocllaraju (6032 m) from the hike to the Ishinca base camp. _mg_2084 Tocllaraju (6032 m) left and Palcaraju (6274 m) at sunset from Ishinca base camp. _mg_2094 Our base camp at 4400 m in the Ishinca valley. _mg_2101 Jared at about 5200 m on the Northwest slopes of the Ishinca glacier. The summit of Ishinca (5530 m) is on the right. _mg_2103 Ranrapalca (6162 m) and Ocshapalca (5888 m) at sunrise from the Ishinca glacier. _mg_2104 Jared further up the Ishinca glacier. The summit of Ishinca (5530 m) is on the right. _mg_2108 Ranrapalca (6162 m) and Ocshapalca (5888 m) from Ishinca. _mg_2109 Ranrapalca (6162 m) from Ishinca. _mg_2110 Ocshapalca (5888 m) from Ishinca. _mg_2125 Jared taking a break on the Ishinca glacier. _mg_2127 Jared approaching the summit plateau on Ishinca. _mg_2128 The short ice step (3 m) that leads onto the summit slopes on Ishinca. _mg_2130 Summit slopes of Ishinca with the summit (5530 m) in the background. img_0246 Eu-Jin on the summit slopes of Ishinca (5530 m) with Tocllaraju (6032 m) in the background. Photo by Jared Brown. _mg_2133 Huantsan (6395 m) right and San Juan (5843 m) left from the summit of Ishinca. _mg_2136 Quebrada Cojup from the summit of Ishinca. The topmost lake is Laguna Perolcocha (4864 m). _mg_2138 Three climbers on the summit slopes of Ishinca. _mg_2141 Copa (6188 m) and the other peaks of the northern Cordillera Blanca. _mg_2142 Copa (6188 m) left and Tocllaraju (6032 m) right from the summit of Ishinca. _mg_2144 Tocllaraju (6032 m) from the summit of Ishinca (5530 m). _mg_2151 Obligatory summit photo on Ishinca (5530 m). _mg_2155 The northwest slopes of Ishinca (5530 m). _mg_2156 Jared on the summit of Ishinca (5530 m). _mg_2165 Our base camp (bottom group of tents) in the Ishinca valley.