Peruvian Adventure 5/18/2006-6/28/2006

Steamboat à Denver à Miami à Lima à Huaraz à Cordillera Blanca à Huaraz àLazy Dog and LlacaàCordillera Huayhuash à Huaraz à Lima à Miami and home

6/18/2006: Cutatambo 14,130 ft:




High Point

15,360 ft

16,600 ft


2,013 ft

17,741 ft


2,013 ft

17,056 ft


This morning slept in for the first time in eight days.  Had breakfast at 8 AM and then headed up to Laguna Sarapococha and the Yerupaja Glacier.  This hike has a purpose, to bring the story of Touching the Void more to life.  We climbed a steep trail up out of Cutatambo along the right side of the big waterfall we had seen from camp.  Once in to the valley we were accompanied by a crystal clear stream provided by the melt waters of the Yerupaja Glacier.

This gradual climb brought us to a boulder choked canyon with an abrupt change in the grade of the trail.  Just before the trail climbed there was a 20 ft high boulder cut like a ships prow on the left side of the trail.  This boulder was described in  Touching the Void and played itself in the movie of the same name.  It also marked the site of the base camp for Simpson and Yates attempt on Siula Grande.


The famous bolder at Touching the Void base camp


From here we climbed up out of the glacial moraine and traversed the mountain side as far as we could go above Laguna Sarapococha and the Yerupaja Glacier. 

Laguna Sarapococha with Yerupaja and the Yerupaja Glacier directly in the back ground


From this vantage point we could see Siula Grande, the Touching the Void route and the descent path taken by Simpson and Yates.  The west face of Siula Grande was a combination of steep ice and snow flutings, rock sections and overhanging seracs.  Simpson and Yates had descended left along a corniced ridge at night in a storm.  The entire ridge was lined with a 20 ft overhanging cornice.  It was this cornice that broke through dropping Joe Simpson on to the steep slope below and shattering the bones in his leg and knee.  With out food, water or the ability to see ahead, Yates lowed Simpson one rope length at a time down this steep slope until he lowered him off a sheer cliff.  Not being able to communicate or see each other, Yates finally had to make a decision to parish or save his own life by cutting the rope and dropping Simpson in to the unknown below.


The black line(right) marks the Touching the Void  ascent and the red line (left) marks the descent.   Where the line drops off the cornice is about where Simpson broke through and fell.  The line  continues down in to the void where he was  cut free and fell.   


From our vantage point across the valley we could see where Simpson would have dropped off in to the snarled, fractured surface of the Yerupaja Glacier.  Surviving this fall he still would have had about a mile of ice cliffs, huge crevasses and finally a nightmare boulder field to cross before arriving at Sarapococha.  If you don’t know the story from here you’ll just have to read it.

Heading back to camp after our trek to TOV


After arriving back at camp after our 5 hour, 2,000 ft climb rest day we had a snack and laid down in the tent for a well deserved nap.  I was just drifting off dreaming about hot showers and burgers and fries when I heard Quique say “Daniel, vamos piscan” (we are going fishing).  I indicated I was in, but hoped that it would be a leisurely hike to a peaceful fishing spot.  As I exited the tent I was comforted to see Zack and Quique standing next to a fellow who looked about fifty or sixty years old, had knee high field waiters on, old cotton pants, a flannel shirt, a drooping fedora and a coiled bull whip around his shoulder.  Quique explained that this was Senor Espinoza and he would guide us up to Laguna Jurau for a little fishing.  He also explained that Senor Espinoza was the now famous farmer who had rescued Joe Simpson and Simon Yates at Sarapococha.  He had taken Simpson on his burro six hours to Huayllapa and then the following day another five hours to Cajatambo, the nearest town with road access in the Huayhuash.

My relief was short lives as Senor Espinoza took off at a near run up the 500 ft slope to Jurau.  It was clear the game they were playing was “kill the gringo”.  In spite of a heart rate being around 300 beats per minute I hung in there with a smile on my face.  We didn’t catch any fish, but the effort and the experience were worth the effort.


Peru Adventure Part Two Chapter XVI

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