Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Bill Jacox (you out there Bill?) wrote this about 10 years ago when we went climbing in Peru in between leading Outward Bound trips out of Leadville..
We had an awesome trip , ran the Inca trail (as I posted last spring), and climbed a couple mountains in the Cordillera Blanca. We also spent a couple weeks in Cusco and took Spanish classes and experinced what we could of live in the old Incan capital.
So, this is the truncated version of his story; after it sits in your email inbox for 10 years yahoo accounts will clip your messages short; serves me right for not cleaing my inbox out for 10 years!

Bill's writing below...(apologies for the formatting)

Tired, sore, beaten, and bruised, i sit pressed against the side of the rattle-trap mini-mini-micro van. i am one of four crammed into the back seat, both knees pressing hard against the seat in front where Dave sits. my left foot up on the wheel-well and my left elbow out the window. i grip the window pane with the still numb fingers tips of my right hand in an effort to keep from crushing the freshly scrubbed peruvian woman on my right. my right hand keeps pulling in reflexively on the window pane as if on a door ajar. i must keep reminding myself that the looseness i feel is not a partially opendoor but that the entire vehicle risks "opening" and, thus, spilling me onto the dusty road. as we pass within inches of cactus, burros, telephone poles, embankments, and buildings, i wonder what it would feel like to shatter my elbow in such a manner. occasionally i remember where i am and reflexively jerk my elbow inside, almost punching the unlucky lady next to the big, dirty, and smelly gringo climber. occasionally, i see the van's shadow and wonder what has fallen from my packunnoticed. i feel my tired body, chapped lips, sunburned nose and tongue (you don't believe me?). i look ahead at dave's red and> white blistered neck and reflect on the last five days.......

we got to a later start than we had intended out of huaraz on tuesday (we were both waiting for the internet place to open to check for expected messages which neither of us received). we chose one of the many minivans (combis) headed to our destination of caraz and hopped inside. along the way we picked up other passengers and at one point heard our driver coax an undecided passenger into our van by telling him there was "more love" in our van. convinced, he hopped in and off we went.

at caraz we had to switch to a different van headed to cashapampa. unbeknownst to us at the time was the driver's need to fill the van fully before actually starting up the road. consequently, we drove around and around one particular block easily 15times looking for other prospective riders. we eventually headed out and soon found ourselves on a very bad and dusty road. i tried to plug a large hole in the floor with my day pack but we arrived in cashapampa decadeslater completely covered in dust. enroute we stopped to pick up a guy with a bag of live chickens (which he put on the floor next to my feet)and a very loud boom box (which he insisted on playing the rest of the time). we eventually began to hike at 3:00 p.m.under very heavy packs. why didn't we hire mules to carry our gear up to the glacier? no comment...

as we hiked up the trail gaining thousands of feet as the sweat poured unabated, i had two voices going through my head (when i wasn't singing ani difranco lyrics to myself): my friend helen saying that guys don't know how to take care of themselves (no lunch, no mules), and friend dr. ed telling me that dave and i are an orthopaedic surgeon's dream. as darkness fell, we made camp, made dinner, and hit the sack. at this point, my small, two-person tent seemed plenty big> > for two.....> >> > we got up and headed out expecting a long, full day> > of hiking up to the> > toe of the glacier. we gain another 3,000 ft.> and> > stop and chat with> > two other yankees coming down after being weathered> > away from a summit> > attempt. we finally arrive at our next camp and> > find part of the> > austrian team, one sick austrian and their peruvian> > cook who had just> > killed, plucked, and boiled a chicken for dinner> > that night. no> > comment.... apparently, the other two austrians had> > been at the col> > camp at 19,000 feet two nights already and were> > expected back that> > night. we had another good night's sleep (the> last> > for me) and dreamt> > of climbing mountains.> >> > we arose early thursday morning and headed up the> > moraine. we reached> > the glacier and pulled out all the gear necessary> > for glacial travel> > and set ourselves up. we met the two austrians> > heading down after> > having spent three nights at 19,000 ft. they> hung> > out in bad weather> > for two days and gave alpamayo a go the day before.> > it sounded like a> > long epic and they didn't even reach the summit.> > they said they had to> > leave pleny of gear behind on their late descent.> > dave and i look at> > each other briefly. we are both thinking the> same> > thing (what is> > another word for pirate's treasure?). we> continue> > on up the glacier in> > variable weather and finally arrive at the col in> > whiteout conditions.> > we are both pretty spent (dehydrated, exhausted, and> > suffering from the> > altitude) and it is all we can do to set up the tent> > and start melting> > snow for water and dinner. later that night it> > clears and we are able> > to catch a good view of our route on alpamayo under> > moonlight. we> > decide to go for it the next morning. we are> all> > alone at 19,000 ft.> >> > NOTE: at altitutdes over 18,500 ft. (the "death> > zone") the human body> > cannot regenerate itself. technically, what> that> > means is that your> > body starts to slowly die. practically, what> that> > means is that you> > are pretty miserable: no appetite, no sleep,> slow> > brain function, fast> > pulse rate, nausea, headache, constant dry throat> > from forcing in and> > out dry rarified air....sound fun? but, boy, is> it> > beautiful up there!> >> > we wake up, melt some snow, prepare our frozen> > things and start walking> > toward the mountain. it takes us one and a half> > hours of soft snow> > glacier travel to reach the bergschrund (don't worry> > if you don't know> > what "col" and "bergschrund" mean. it doesn't> > matter.) and decide to> > just stay roped up and simul-climb the beginning of> > the route and> > change that plan as conditions dictate. so we> > frontpoint for two solid> > hours up 2,000 ft. of 45 and 50 degree snow and ice> > to the ridge. we> > placed no gear and never stopped (as if there was> > any place to stop)> > until we reached the summit ridge. it took us 2> > hours to climb the> > ferrari route on the sw face of alpamayo and we> > reached the summit> > ridge at 9:30 a.m. we sat for a spell and then> > continued on the> > knife-edge ridge to the true summit. with such> > exposure on both sides> > we had to straddle the ridge and "shimmy-slide" part> > of the way.> > nothing quite like straddling the "most beautiful> > mountain in the> > world" at 5,947 meters at just before 10:00 a.m. on> > friday morning.> > what were you doing then? as the clouds started> to> > roll in we knew we> > had the bigger part of the job ahead of us: getting> > down.> >> > we start our descent with one rope between us and> > take our time (we> > still have plenty of daylight). we use natural> > features where we can> > and make natural features with our ice tools where> > there is nothing> > else. we do not want to leave any of our gear> > behind (it is expensive> > to replace) and we don't want to use any of the> > recovered> === message truncated ===

Dave's writing.. So in esseance we got off the mountain with multiple rappels with various "creative" techniques that saved us a few bucks, but in hindsight was somewhat unsafe and stoopid. ..actuallyu it wasn't even in hindsight.. at the times I think we knew we were being stupid but didn't want to lose the $5 ice screws!

At the times, I was sponsored by Montrail for ultrarunning and I had some nice climbing boots (the Couloir, it is called) they gave me for the trip; I still have them and use them every other year when I go ice climbing. My feet swelled so much on this trip that my toes got hammered on the descent and destroyed by feet. It was so worth it though!


  1. Peru is just amazing. I haven't gone there. I will go in next vacations.

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  3. Hi Dave. Did you just publish a private email message without the consent (or knowledge) of the author? Still being "somewhat unsafe and stoopid"?