Saturday, August 29, 2009

The North East Face of Artesonraju - climb detailed

Sophie on the way back - Artesonraju

The initial plan was to wake up at 1:00am, and our dead line to reach the summit was 10:00am
We woke up at 1am then every 30minutes, but it kept snowing. We start at 4am. 20’ later it started snowing again, and it never stopped. We got cut for hours in a snow storm, with very cold wind
Artesonraju the North East face - the most technical face of Artesonraju
In red the route we climbed - We did not summit by few meters due to high risk of avalanches

1. The first part of the glacier was steep but the snow with the cold was good and crispy. We passed 2 major line crevasses. It was a good start, we were walking fast.

2. This phase was more delicate as we have to pass few big open crevasses and have to do few traverses.
Opened crevasse

3. We are one the first shoulderof Artesonraju. We can relax, and walk fast.

4. Delicate phase to reach the face, we have to pass a field of crevasses, open crevasses and snow bridges. To avoid them we do as much as possible traverse, which is climbing on the icy part of the face in horizontal. Just before to reach the snow cave where we start the face, I fell in a crevasse. I managed to get out of it pretty fast, using my ice axes and my bag pack to not fall deeper in the crevasse.
Video : Sophie Denis - snow cave 1 - artesonraju : Video : Sophie Denis - snow cave 1 - artesonraju #2 :
Sophie - Traverse climb

5. Once in the snow cave, we relax, drink tea, and get ready for the face

Sophie relaxing in the snow cave

6. We climbed the face. The wind was so strong that packs of soft snow kept running on us. It was very cold, and our clothes were frozen. A layer of frozen snow was covering us, we were all white. At one point my fingers were really cold, so Beto taught me another climbing technique to reduce the contact of your fingers with the snow. It worked very well.
Video : Sophie in the snow storm (video kinda white at the beginning ... sorry...) :

7. We turned back a pitch away from the summit as the snow condition were terrible. Beto fell 3 times. It was very dangerous because we could not put neither anchors nor protections when climbing, and with high risk of creating avalanches. We could see the top, almost touching it, but it was too dangerous, so we turned back.

Sophie in the snow storm rappelling

8. On the way back, I was going down first but I could not see anything, so it was so difficult to find the way back. I kept falling in crevasses, 5 crevasses … it is not a big deal to fall in crevasse, as we are trained to rescue. So I was ok with that. But I was so frustrated to not be able to appreciate very well the snow bridges quality of the crevasses. Beto understands so well the glacier dynamic and the glaciology… So I know what is my next step :D

9. We arrive to our camp 1. we fold our tent then we went down straight to our base camp. it was snowing, the ground was wet. We kept sliding.

10. After 2h we arrive to base camp, all our gear was soaked. Even if we did not summit, we celebrate our climb, because in our heart we know that it was a success. We can be happy that we used a good judgment call: risks were too high to summit.
Climbing is not only about summiting,
is about being able to make objective decisions

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