Turned by the Wind on Chopicalqui
After 3 days of rest and a bit of a storm in basecamp, the team began its move on Chopicalqui. Chopicalqui, at 20,848 feet is one of the biggest peaks in the Americas, and a true expedition peak. Climbing it entails placing three camps, carrying big loads on a big glacier with loads of crevasses, and wild summit day climbing on a knife-edge ridge, steep ice faces, and a double corniced finish.
After climbing Pisco and then a few good days of rest in BC with lots of great fresh Peruvian food the team was heathy, strong, acclimatized, and raring to go. They moved quickly to Moraine Camp at the edge of the glacier on July 4. On the 5th the four climbers shouldered big packs and made the move to high camp at 18,000 feet, high on Chopicalqui's glaciers. The weather was good and the group made the choice to go for the summit last night.
They left the tents at 1 AM in good but windy conditions. Amazing views of the surrounding peaks and countless stars made for good distrations as they pushed higher. As they climbed the winds kept increasing but continued to be manageable, until the group climbed a steep ice bulge to join the knife-edge ridge at around 19,500 feet. At this point the winds were blowing at least 50 miles per hour, and the route afforded no shelter. The group pushed on for a bit before grouping up to discuss. Hands were getting dangerously cold, and the group felt like pushing on in winds this strong was dangerous if not impossible. At this point they had almost zero visibility despite the perfect weather. The winds were blowing too much snow around to make finding a route practical.
At 5:30 in the morning, the team made the tough call to descend and return to camp. They reached high camp by 7 AM, rested, brewed up, and re-warmed, and then continued the descent. With the group still feeling strong they are attempting to return all the way to base camp today. They just called the office as they stepped off the glacier, planning on taking a rest, packing their Moraine Camp, and then continuing down. We'll post again when they reach basecamp and hopefully we will have some photos at that time as well!