Alpine Club of Canada

Winter Gazette 2013

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Calgary Section chooses vamos con todo! by I Keith Sanford t started over a pint… it ALWAYS starts over a pint! Glug, glug. "Let's do a Club trip somewhere really interesting." Sluurp. "Where?" Glug, glug. "How about Nepal?" Sluurp. "Naw, too much work. How about Bolivia?" Thus, the idea was born. I had spent three weeks in the Cordillera Real of Bolivia in 2010 and always thought it would be a great place to take a group from the Alpine Club of Canada. High mountains, perfect weather and welcom‑ ing locals all make it a great place for a section camp-style trip. The trip was posted on the Calgary Section trip calendar and after a couple of months of sorting we had 10 willing par‑ ticipants. Along with me and a co-leader, we had a nice round dozen. After several months of planning, a few hundred emails, spreadsheets and phone calls, we gathered in La Paz on June 2. Our first trip out of La Paz was to Isle de Sol on Lake Titicaca. We spent the day touring Copacabana and then took a long boat ride to the island where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and, the next day, a 5.5-kilometre hike across the island at 4,000 metres altitude. Then it was back to La Paz for a rest/packing day. We spent the following 10 days in a climbers' playground called the Condoriri area. This area boasts 13 peaks above 5,000 metres, a lake (complete with fresh trout) and a campsite that is attended to by the The Calgary Section Bolivia 2013 team gathers at Laguna Chiara Khota, with several peaks of the Condoriri and their base camp (far right) in the background. Back row, from left, Wil Tabak, Helerion (guide), Garnet Alberts, Robin Owens, Lida Frydrychova, Dana Engler (co- leader), Yolanda (cook), Alay (assistant cook), Keith Sanford (trip leader), Kevin Starozik. Front, from left, Enrique Canto (interpreter extraordinaire), Nathalie Roulin, Dan Kim, Juan Chomorro, Sim Galloway. photo by Lida Frydrychova local people (clean outhouses!). We had contracted a local agency to supply all of our logistics throughout the trip so we could concentrate on nothing but climb‑ ing. Jenaro Yupanqui of Elma Tours took care of all our travel in-country, including cooks, donkeys and porters. He also supplied us with Helerion (aka Hilarion) an aspirant guide and fabulous addition to the team. "It's the dry season!" became our rallying cry as we watched the weather day in and day out go from sun to snow to wind to snow to sun As seen from the summit of Tarija, the regular climbing route of Pequeño to snow. Despite some Alpamayo follows the ridgeline to the summit. hoto by Robin Owens p variable conditions, while there our group did manage to make a combined total of 48 summits. Most everyone made it up Piramide Blanca (5,230 metres). This straightforward ascent included a long glacier approach followed by a steep snow slope and a short rock pitch to the top. The most summits for a single mountain was on Tarija (5,300 metres), only because we had to go up and over it to get to Pequeño Alpamayo (5,370 metres). Pequeño Alpamayo is a beautiful peak that boasts a fun approach, an exhila‑ rating exposed ridge walk on 55-degree snow and a fantastic summit view. One day we had seven participants from our group on the summit. Our descent that day included an electrical storm that had us throwing packs down the mountain, sparks flying and everyone running for some nonexistent cover on the ridge. One of the more difficult climbs in the area is Cabeza de Cóndor (5,648 metres). This is the highest peak in the Condoriri and requires technical rock climbing and perfect balance as you walk the very narrow and exposed summit ridge. Thanks to the weather, only one of our members, along with our guide, made it to the top of this one. Other peaks we climbed included Austria Peak (5,315 metres), a basic non-technical scramble with a view of the entire area, Illusion (5,000 metres), an interesting route finding mountain and Mirador, another scrambling peak. We also made a couple of trips up "the scree slope from hell" to our 5,100-metre high camp near Cabeza that we didn't end up using. Our plan after Condoriri was to climb Illimani (6,438 metres). This massif stands

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