by Malcolm Flatt.
Many of you will know that I climbed Alpamayo in June 2022. This was a mountaineering expedition with a company called Jagged Globe. Before I tell you about the trip I thought people might be interested in how I came to do this trip.
The first Alpine peak I climbed was Mont Blanc in 1984. I did this with David Pinion. After doing a bit of hillwalking we decided to climb Mont Blanc. We joined the PMC did a bit of rock climbing and a couple of winter course and then went out and climbed Mont Blanc. I did not do any alpine climbing for a few years. Then in 1988 Clive Osborne, myself and three others went to the Alps and climbed Duforspitze and the Matterhorn. Then up to 2015 I went to the Alps quite regularly and climbed over 30 of the Alpine 4,000m+ peaks, some twice and a few slightly smaller.
In 2019 I started thinking about climbing something a bit bigger. Mont Blanc was still the highest peak I had ever climbed. I booked myself onto expedition with Jagged Globe called Bolivia Two Peaks. This trip was due to run in July 2020. As the name suggests in climbs two peaks in Bolivia. The second one was just over 6,000m.
Covid struck in 2020 and the expedition was looking unlikely to run. In April 2020 I had a heart attack. This made it very unlikely I would be able to go. The expedition was eventually cancelled. Due to Covid nothing happened in 2021. I then booked to go on the Bolivia Two Peaks expedition in July 2022. For some reason there was not enough people interested so this expedition was not going to run. I started to look at other options. Jagged Globe were running an expedition to climb Alpamayo in June 2022, so I booked myself on. Alpamayo is only 5.947m high but is much more technical. There are 10 pitches of steep ice mostly 50° , but steepening to 70° . The fluting and runnels make it a very impressive looking peak, and it is considered by some to be the most beautiful in the world.
The trip started on 4 June with a flight to Amsterdam then Lima, Peru. Unfortunately, the flight to Amsterdam was delayed which meant I missed my flight to Lima. Problems at Amsterdam airport meant it was chaos there and I had to spend 24 hours there before I flew to Lima. Another person on the trip was also 24 hours late so a car was arranged the next day to Huarez where we met up with the other 6 people in the group and the guides. We had only missed a rest day so there was not too many problems as a result of the delay.
Huarez is at 3,000m so when you first arrive even walking upstairs is hard work. Our first day was an acclimatization walk. We drove to the start point at 3,600m then walked up to Laguna Chirup at 4,400m and back.
The plan now was to climb Ishinca (5,530m) to acclimatize before attempting Alpamayo. This starts with a drive to Collon (3,670) and from there we walk to Ishinca base camp at 4,270m. Fortunately all our heavy gear is carried by mules. The next day we do another acclimatization walk up to 4,600m and back. The day after we go up to a higher camp on the moraine at 4,890m. From here we are ready to climb Ishinca the next day. We start early before dawn. Initially we are on moraine but we a soon on the glacier and rope up and put on crampons. It is not very technical just a long snow plod to the summit. We descend the other side which is a little steeper but not too much of a problem. We return to our camp on the moraine and then to base camp. The next day we do another acclimatization walk up to 5,100m. The day after that we return to Collon and then travel back to Huarez.
We are now ready to climb Alpamayo. To get to the high camp at 5470m we will take 4 days walking and have two rest days before we go for the summit.
We drive to Cashapama which is small village at a height of 2,930m. We then trek approx. 14km along a valley to Llamacorral at a height of 3,770m and make our first camp.
This is a 16km trek to Alpamayo base camp at 4,320m The route continues east along the valley past Laguna Jatuncocha and the climbs North to base camp.
This a rest day and we practise a few rope techniques.
We now leave our donkeys behind so our packs are heavier. We climb approx. 600m on steep rocky ground to camp on the moraine.
We climb to the col camp at 5470m. After a very short distance we are on snow and put on our crampons and rope up. The route takes you to a col and this is where you get the first sighting of the iconic fluted face of Alpamayo.
This a rest day. One of the group is struggling with the altitude and returns to base camp with one of the guides.
This is summit day. As we have lost one person I climbed in a group of four with two Irish men and one guide. We start very early in the morning well before sunrise. As the route is going to be very steep we all have crampons and two ice tools. The first part is fairly easy walking. We then get to a steep difficult bergschrund. To cross it you have to place the shafts of both ice tools in the ice on the other side of the bergschrund and pull yourself across. After this it is approximately 10 pitches of steep ice climbing. The steepness increases with height. The sun comes up and we eventually reach the summit. This is very narrow particularly when there are ten people on it. After a short while on the summit we commence our descent. This is approximately 10 abseils until we are below the bergschrund. It is then a short walk back to our camp.
We now have to descend to base camp. The day starts with a short ascent to the col and gives us a good last view of Alpamayo and chance for last photos. From the col we begin our descent. We have ice axe and crampons and are roped. On the steepest part we do two abseils and then the last walk on ice till we reach the morriaine. We take of crampons and put away ice axes, and descend the steep rocky moraine to base camp
We now have a walk of nearly 30km to get back to Cashapama, but fortunately it is nearly all gentle downhill. We arrive in the afternoon and camp at Cashapama.
We now have 3 days travelling to get back to the UK. We first drive to Huarez. The next day we drive to Lima, and the following day we fly to the UK via Amsterdam.
This was a fantastic 23 day trip to climb Alpamayo. Considered by many to be the most beautiful mountain in the world. It is the highest and most remote mountain I have ever climbed. A fantastic experience.