Urus Trip Report (#10428)

  • Signed By: Eugene (Buz) Groshong
  • Date submitted: August 19, 2004
  • Date(s) climbed: 23 July 2004
  • Number of People Encountered:

After three days acclimatizing in Huaraz and the hike-in to Ishinca base camp, I started out at 4 AM with my guide, Koky CastaƱeda. It took me a while to get used to the uphill; it was so steep that the ankles didn't bend enough (partly because of the plastic boots, no doubt); the trick was to duckwalk or sidestep up the slope. It was so steep that I could not have done it without poles. Because of the altitude you also had to pace yourself very slow. If you stepped on a loose rock and had to move your foot again, you paid for it by having to stop and take three or so deep breaths before going on.

Eventually we saw snow-covered ground and a glacier up ahead as it began to get light. We could see Ranrapalca across the valley, with a pink cast to its snow covering in the light blue early morning sky. A little farther up and it was time to rope up and put on crampons; it is amazing how out-of-breath you can get just trying to reach your boots. The snow was generally easier going as we did rising traverses up the slope, but a couple of spots called for front-pointing straight up the slope. Before long we hit some rock scrambling - in crampons at 17,000+ feet! Next we were at the snow ridge where it flattened out a bit, and after winding around some crevasses and tall rocks we were at the base of the summit pyramid. There we took off the crampons and scrambled up a 45 degree rock slope, which fortunately had a good dihedral and many hand and foot holds. After about 15 minutes or so of that I was at the top!

Climbing down was no easy fete. I down climbed the rock as Koky belayed me; it took several pitches. The snow generally went quickly and was done without crampons, but required belays at some of the steeper areas. Once we got off the snow, we slowed quite a bit because it was steeper and we had to watch our step. Coming down from Urus was more difficult than going up most other mountains I had done! We finally got back into camp at 5 PM - 13 hours total time.

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