Every now and then, everything lines up perfectly on a climb. We all know the feeling – when perfect weather combines with a strong healthy team to climb a route that is in perfect condition. That was the feeling two nights ago as Joe Suntum, Larry Siu, David Strauss, and Steve McNally joined Jaime and me to climb Tocclaraju. After 4 days of acclimatizing and reviewing ice skills, we made our summit push. The route was much more challenging than in past seasons, with steep neve climbing occasionally interspersed with ice and sugar-snow serac walls. The final summit pyramid was especially memorable; the sun rose as we finessed our way up a 70 degree knife-edge ridge, eventually reaching the true summit after two false humps. Luckily, we were alone on top and the temperatures were warm, so we spent almost half an hour taking in views of the entire Cordillera Blanca.
And now we are spending a day resting in preparation for our attempt on Artesonraju. We expect our route to contain 15-18 pitches of two-tool snow and ice climbing, so we will need the recovery time! Our planned summit day is Thursday, so look for a report on the climb on Friday.