Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Type I Fun in December 2014

This is the Chronicle of my type I fun in December.  For those not familiar with the 3-tiered fun scale, see this post by Kelly Cordes.

Dribbles of drool all over Champagne Sherbet in Montana

The week of extremely cold weather we got at the beginning of November was just enough to wet my appetite.  My dreams turned from trails and rock to powder snow and plastic one-swing-stick ice.  I waxed my skis.  I sharpened my tools.  I was hungry for WINTER!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snow, Rock, and a little Ice on Cervidae

At the end of last week, a freak storm blew in from the west and dropped a record amount of snow, and brought single digit night time temperatures with it.

Short on time, and without my skis (they are in the shop), I still wanted to get outside this last weekend and take advantage of the early start to winter.

My friend Troy was equally short on time, but I promised we could leave Boise at 8am Sunday morning and be back by lunch.  He was in.

Destination:  The rock route on Cervidae!

The "rock route" can be seen high on the ridge on the right side of the photo. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leadville 100

"You're tougher than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can!"

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Psycho Therapy

Since my beautiful son Max was born, I have contented myself with running.  I had assumed I wouldn't get the chance to do any serious climbing for the foreseeable future due to the time commitment, and the fact that most of my weekends are booked with people coming to visit and meet Max.

Then last week the phone rang . . .

Photo of Psycho Therapy from October 2010 by Bob Boyles

Friday, May 23, 2014

Shafer Butte Fun Run

The first time I heard of the Shafer Butte 50 was a month or two ago on a trail run with my friend Ryan.  He told me that the challenging 50 mile course has been a tradition in the local running community dating back to the 1980s.

Photo by Ryan Anderson looking back at Shafer Butte from Mores mountain during the 2013 Shafer Butte 50

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cervidae to Heinen Linkup

When I moved to Idaho in 2011, the first thing I did was get a copy of "Idaho, A Climbing Guide" by Tom Lopez.  I scoured this book, many internet sites, and lots of topo maps looking for potential adventures close to my new home.  The closest steepish named mountain that I could find was Cervidae Peak.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Life After Birth

Wow, what a busy four weeks it's been!

Our son, Maxwell Le Harelson was born on Saturday April 5, 2014.  Neither my wife nor I had any idea what to expect.  Our combined baby experience involved nervously holding someone else's infant for a few seconds once or twice in our lives.  Neither of us had seen an a real diaper in person, let alone changed one!

Me and Maxwell Le Harelson

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pickled feet: 6 hours of . . . fun?

"Why are you running in circles?"
"You PAID for this!"
"Ferry to crazy town leaves in 5 minutes"

These were just a few of the signs posted on the 2.5 mile loop that people signed up to run for 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, but in the land of Ouray, the one-eyed man misses a climbing day.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Easy steak/yam/kale dinner

Sometimes, you just want a steak! 

Tonight we decided to keep dinner simple. This is one our go-to meals when we want something delicious that doesn't take much effort to make. 

Steak, seasoned with MFT Bittick's rub and seared for 5 minutes each side in the cast iron skillet. A yam, coated in olive oil and baked for an hour at 350F (add butter or olive oil to taste). 1 1/2 heads of kale sautéed in the wok with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. 

Frozen feet, sleep, and a tasty breakfast - Paleo Banana Pancakes

Here is a recap of my 50K race yesterday.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

FROM THE VAULT - 2010: A Magic Year of Great Ski Mountaineering From LA to Alaska - Part I

2010 was a magic year of skiing for me. It had been 3 years since I traded my Mammoth Mountain season pass for a set of AT gear.  I had been getting a ton of ski-mountaineering days each season, and was finally starting to feel somewhat confident in my ability to assess ski conditions, get up challenging routes, and then ski back down those same challenging routes.

As 2009 drew to a close I was very excited to see what the new year would bring, and what it brought to Southern California was snow.  In fact, the winter of 2010 brought A LOT of snow!

Inspiration in a fish - fried orange roughy & tequila-cilantro-lime wild rice/black eyed peas

"Hey hon, did you get anything for dinner?"

"Nope, can you grab something?"

"Sure, I'll swing by Winco on my home."

"What are you thinking?"

"I dunno, I'll figure something out."

I wandered the isles thinking...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Resting up and chowing down - Beef soup from scratch

The last 5 or 6 weeks I have been gradually ramping up my training, with weekly mileage approaching 50 (not that much in the grand scheme of things, but quite a bit for ME), weekly elevation gain up to 8,400ft, and some gym workouts at the Crossfit Arbor (thanks for helping me work around my bum right hand!).  This week, however, I'm trying to take it easy so that I'll be rested for the Wilson Creek Frozen Feet 50k on Saturday.  As such, a couple short runs (3 miles last night, maybe another 2 or 3 tonight), and one gym workout today are all I plan to do.

Mostly, I just plan to eat!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday night Yum - Scallop-arugula salad

On the menu tonight we had a gourmet main meal salad.

Sunday Run Day + Snow and Ice

My friend Judd and I are signed up for a race next weekend, 50K for me, and 20 miles for Judd. The race is called the "Frozen Feet" 50k Ultra-marathon.

Rather than rest and go easy the weekend before the race, I couldn't help myself, and ended up getting out for a 13 miler with Judd on Sunday (after a short 5 miler on Saturday to break in some new shoes).

The Deep End

Well, just after my 50 mile R2R2R run, I had sworn off running forever, and planned to climb and ski my brains out over the coming months.  Within a few days, however, a weird thing happened: The memory of the pain faded to the background, and the memories at the front of my brain were only of the breathtaking (as in, literally, I forgot to breathe for a few seconds) sunrise, the high fives and encouragement given and offered by so many other runners, and the delicious sense of accomplishment that accompanied our pizza and beer after finishing.

Beware! Coffee Addiction more dangerous than previously thought!

Last weekend was supposed to be low key. My weekend off from my typical physically demanding and oftentimes risky adventures. I went with my wife and several friends on a camping trip. The biggest challenge was supposed to be figuring out how to cook a whole turkey in the woods. However, It ended up being making the morning coffee.

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim - November 16, 2013

For some reason a friend and I thought that it would be a good idea to head down to the Grand Canyon last weekend and attempt the ultra-classic R2R2R trail run.

Smoky fun with a Chipmunk-August 24, 2013

Went with Nick this weekend to brave the smoke-filled Sawtooth Mountains and give the Four Horsemen route on Chipmunk Perch a try.

Four Horsemen ascends the obvious east ridge with 4 large towers (horsemen)
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Cobb Squared - May 20, 2013

All the recent posts about sweet looking Couloirs on Cobb Peak, combined with the fact that my friend Troy's last name is Cobb, inspired a trip into the Pioneers on Sunday to see what this whole Cobb mania was about. The forecast was less than stellar, but since some of my best days in the mountains have come when I ignored a bad forecast that ended up being incorrect, we decided to ignore it and go anyway. Worst case we'd have a nice hike in the rain.

The day started out sunny:
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And continued to alternate between cloudy and sunny all day. We watched several good looking storm clouds unleashing what looked like serious precip to our south, but they kept missing us and left us mostly in the sun all day.

Here is a picture of Cobb on the approach. You can see the thin white line of the comma couloir extending way down the face.
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After an exciting creek crossing we dealt with some mild bushwhacking en route to our thin white line:
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The snow in the lower drainage was not continuous. We hiked on a combination of snow and scree, with a few short class 3 sections to bypass some cliffs in the drainage. The views behind us just got better and better . . .
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Once on the continuous snow I'd say 19 out of every 20 steps supported our weight and had nice styrofoam for our crampons to bite into, but every 20 steps or so . . . BAM You're up to your waist!

Better living through postholing:
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Higher up was scrambling over snow and rock. The exposure was high, but the rock is solid, so we felt fine without a rope. The dark "cloud" well below us is actually by thumb over the lens happy.gif
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Before we knew it we were on top. I thought for sure we were looking at a false summit, and would have a long way to go on the ridge, but nope we were almost on top. We did have a slight bit of ridge climbing to do since we took a left trending variation of the Comma Couloir towards the top.

Troy on a bit of knife edge ridge:
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Troy soloing some mixed climbing near the summit.
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Looking back at Troy from the top
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The ridge to Old Hyndman . . . I'll be back for this!
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Troy with Hyndman Peak in the background
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There was a perfect "lounge chair" rock right on the summit. This is me enjoying summit hot chocolate and sunshine:
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Summit baby, yeah! Cobb on Cobb! Me and Mr. Cobb on the summit!
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There was a geocache on the summit. We took a sweet gold arrowhead necklace and left a fishing fly
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On the way out we took our time and enjoyed the beautiful lush scenaery around the trail
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9:10 car to car. Overall a great day!
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Super Gully on Lost River Peak - May 5, 2013

I'd been hearing about Super Gully for awhile, and with the great snow conditions on Sunday I'd say it lived up to it's name! My friend Troy borrowed my extra skis (my fat skis) for his first time ski mountaineering. He did great considering the size of my spare planks and that he hadn't been on skis in a couple years. At 6:50 car to car the day felt almost casual compared to our 17 hour roundtrip post-holing horrow show on the east ridge of Williams Peak the week before. Couldn't have asked for a better day!

Troy finding his way through the trees:
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Morning light on the mountains across the valley:
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Climbing the gully with Troy aways behind me slowed by my giant powder skis on his back:
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Troy coming back across the exposed summit ridge:
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The top half of the couloir contained a nice layer of windblown powder, while the bottom was perfect corn:
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Looking back at what we just skied from the drive out:
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Williams Peak - April 28, 2013

Weekend before last my friend Troy and I thought we would go have a look at the June Couloir, hoping to find it mostly covered in snow or ice.

This was kind of a last minute adventure, and we were in a rush as we left town late on Saturday evening, which may have contributed to the fact that I made a number of mistakes this weekend. The first was underestimating the Sawtooth Snowpack! While there doesn't seem to be much snow left in the Boise Mountains, or on the south faces of the Lost Rivers until you get up to a high altitude, the Sawtooths are still covered! We neglected to bring skis or snowshoes and paid for it with waist deep postholing all day. At one point we saw a group skiing a beautiful looking Couloir to the north of Williams and I was very jealous of their mode of travel. This definitely influenced my decision to strap the skis on and check out the Super Gully this past weekend.

When we finally managed to slog to the base of the June Couloir we found that it looked like a lot more loose-rock climbing and a lot less snow and ice climbing than we had hoped for. I'd be OK with rock if it was somewhat solid, but didn't have the stomach for what looked to be a steep choss horror-show. That's when I remembered reading this post about the Redemption Couloir and the east ridge. The redemption couloir was all snow all the way up to the ridge, and even had some ski tracks in it. We made short work of the couloir. At the ridge we roped up and climbed 4 or 5 pitches of extremely loose rock. Fortunately the climbing was never very hard, and since we were on a ridge all the loose pieces fell down the sides and not onto my friend Troy who was belaying me. Seems this would have been terrifying to climb unroped, although there wasn't very much good gear anyway . . . Despite the loose rock, the postion and exposure on the ridge were amazing!

All the postholing earlier in the day had taken their toll on the clock, 6pm rolled around when we reached what looked to be the end of the tricky rock, with nothing but an easy snow field separating us from the summit, which still looked several hundred feet away. Somewhere around this time I realized my second (and worst) mistake, in the rush to get our packs together I'd forgotten my headlamp! What a bonehead move that was! The late hour, plust my lack of light, made the decision to skip the summit and start the glissade descent an easy one.

Down we went, glissading in an old avy path. The warm day meant that the snow down lower was very soft and wet, so we couldn't glissade very far. Eventually we were force to resume the heinous postholing, sometimes past our waist, that seemed it would never end. "Thank you sir! May I have another?" During this time I realized my third mistake, no gaiters. I usually dislike them as they tend to make my feet hot, which makes them sweat more. This day, as I typically do, I skipped the real gaiters in favor of the built-in gaiters on my boots. This usually works just fine . . . not today. It didn't take long before I could feel the water sloshing around in my boots with every step. The wet, sloshing, postholing went on and on . . .

Thanks to Idaho's generous daylight hours we managed to make it all the way down out of the worst snow before it got fully dark. Troy had an extra flashlight for me, although it only seemed to work for a few seconds at a time. In the dark, with my flashing flashlight, we stumbled back down the last parts of the trail, then back out Redfish Lake Road toward the car. When we got there we checked the watch: 17:15 car to car. Ouch.

We were exhausted, but both of us had to be at work the next day. We started the drive, electing to go out through Sun Valley with the hopes of finding a restaurant still open for a late dinner. No luck. Gas station food would have to do. We then took turns driving. Each of us sleeping while the other went as far as they could until they could hold their eyes open any more. At which point we would switch. Funny how the most dangerous part of a 17 hour day in the mountains is the drive home. Anyway, we made it. I was in bed by the decent hour of 3:30am.

It was an exhausting but rewarding day!

Trudging uphill in a firmer portion of snow:
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Redemption Couloir:
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Climbing the couloir:
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Me, leading a portion of the ridge:
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Troy at one of the belays:
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Troy at an exposed step-around:
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Troy at a section of downclimbing that led to the final snowfield:
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Regular Northwest face of Half Dome - October 21, 2012

Quick TR of my trip a little over a week ago to get on the Regular Northwest Face of Halfdome in Yosemite Valley.

Elephants Perch - October 6, 2012

The following is a trip report that my friend Bob put together after we took a climbing trip to the Elephants Perch in the summer of 2012:

East face direct of Mount Idaho - September 22, 2012

Kevin Hansen and I had been talking about getting on a climb together for awhile, but due to various factors didn't manage to make it happen until this last weekend. When Kevin brought up the possibility of doing a first ascent up the east face of Mount Idaho I jumped at the chance! I had looked at the east face longingly last summer when I went up to do the north face, and was excited to find that there was someone else who was also excited to get on it.

My view of the East Face back in July of 2011:
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Elephants perch - Astro elephant -September 1, 2012

So I moved to Idaho over a year ago, and somehow I haven't made it to the Elephant's Perch until this weekend. Holy cow, what an awesome chunk of stone!

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Cordillera Blanca, Peru - July 2012

In July 2012, I went on a climbing trip to the Cordillera Blanca mountains of Peru. The trip from Boise to Huaraz included three different plane flights, and an eight hour bus ride, totaling about 24 hours of travel. I met up with my friends Tony and Jared, and also made some new friends on this trip. Below is a photo journal of the trip.

On the bus from Lima to Peru, Cory and Tony (with David not in the picture) got 2nd level front row seats so that they could witness first hand how close they came to losing their lives every time the bus driver decided to pass someone on a blind curve :)

The Huayhuash (sp?) Range, home of the peak made infamous by "Touching the Void"

Welcome to Huaraz!

Plenty of room for gear in our room at La Casa de Zarela (highly recommended!), but where are we going to sleep????

La Iglesia de la Soledad, as seen from Zarela's roof

No matter where you are in Huaraz, Huascaran (6,768m, The tallest mountain in the Cordillera Blanca) towers above.

Laguna Churup, with Nevado Churup above. No this place is not scenic at all :)

A still fairly clean face of a person enjoying himself

Nevado Churup. 2 weeks later Jared and I would attemp to climb straight up the middle of this one...

Our Arriero, Victor, loads the burro with our slupplies for Ishinca Valley while his family watches.

I wasn't quite feeling my best on the hike into Ishinca Valley. In fact, although it is a very easy hike to the Ishinca base camp, I was only able to make it about half way. Every hundred feet or so along the trail I had to decide whether I wanted to step off and projectile vomit or projectile crap. It's a good thing the moss on the rocks was very soft :-). I stopped halfway in, and Tony and Jared continued to base camp. After a rendezvous with the mules and our stuff at base camp, Jared came back with a tent and food and crashed with me at my halfway stop. The next day I felt much better and hiked the rest of the way into camp.

The weird thing is that on all of my other trips to Third World countries, I never really paid much attention to what I ate or drank, and I never had any problems. I've eaten street food and drank tapwater in Mexico, Costa Rica, Vietnam, and Puerto Rico. This trip was the first time that I was actually trying to be careful, eating only well cooked food, and drinking only bottled beverages. This experience taught me that if you're going to get sick, you're going to get sick no matter how careful you are, so you might as well enjoy all the good food that your destination has to offer. The remainder of the trip I ate all sorts of street food, including ceviche from street carts, didn't worry about where the water I was drinking came from, and I didn't have anymore problems.

Jared bouldering on the way in to Ishinca base camp. I was very sick the day before, but felt well enough to play on the rocks this day.

These flowers were beautiful, and they were everywhere!

Base camp amid the boulders

Jared and his friend, el burro.

This was the best view of Tocllaraju that we got until near the end of our 9 day stay here, since it was usually in the clouds.

The West Face Direct route on Tocllaraju looked so beautiful! With better conditions and weather I would have tried it. Maybe next time?

Urus Este (5420m) would be our first objective, as it is lower and easier than any of the surrounding peaks. 
Unfortunately, Jared had been very ill. He was loudly vomiting all night long before our planned attempt. We postponed the attempt one day to see if he might recover, but he did not and so he elected to stay behind in base camp while Tony and I went.

3:30am and ready for my first Peruvian peak, Urus Este! 

Tony crampons ahead of two Brazilians that we passed.

Having a great time despite the cold and VERY windy weather.

Tony admires the nice light show on Ranrapalca (which would end up being our next objective) thanks to the funky weather.

Left to right, Ishinca, Ranrapalca, Oshapalca

Tony crampons up Urus with Ranrapalca in the background

Tony makes an effort to finish strong and rush the summit, but comes up a bit short of air! :)

Summit of Urus Este!

Tony descends the moraine trail, with Ishinca base camp and refugio far below, we were back to camp by 11:30am

Ready for Ranrapalca!

View of Tocllaraju from the hike up to Ranrapalca high camp.  This was the first day that it was clear, and coincidentally the day that David, Adam and Mike headed up it.  Lucky bastards!  If you look VERY close here you can see them descending the lower left ridge.

Zoom in of what I think was David, Adam, and Mike descending Tocllaraju

Giardia be damned!  Tony fills bottles directly from the running source.

Tony doing what he does best.

Break time, those packs are heavy!

Ranrapalca high camp at about 17,000 feet, after a 4 hour approach.  The sexy looking North Face of Ranrapalca is above and tempting . . .

Tony managed to hack his way through the ice to get to a water source without having to melt snow.

NF Ranrapalca, we were tempted to try this instead of the regular route, but since it was our first big technical peak of the trip, and since even the regular route looked very much technical enough to be fun, we decided to save the Northface for another day.

When we awoke at midnight for Ranrapalca, Tony felt like crap.  It took him 2 hours to get ready, and After only a couple hundred yards he was doubled over coughing and heaving.  He realized that it wasn't going to happen for him.  Feeling rested and strong (actually the best I felt during the entire trip), I decided to continue solo.

After cramponing seemingly forever through the night, the sun came up and I was able to see 5 other Basque climbers ahead of me.  Since they were passing the upper rock band on the left, and I didn't want to be soloing under them in case they dropped any ice/rocks/gear, I decided to pass the rock band on the right.

I ended up climbing the icy corner just right of center in this photo.

Here is a video that I took midway up the technical corner of the upper rock band:

Looking across the rockband. If you look close you can see the Basque climbers.

Video from the upper rock band.

Having a good time despite the lack of air.

The basque climbers make their way up the rock-band, which proved to be much larger than it looked from below.

Ice-tool guitar at +/- 20,000 ft.  The true summit is just behind me.


Unfortunately, I did not go all the way to the summit.  It appeared to be maddeningly close, but the snow on the summit plateau became waist deep postholing.  This quickly drained my energy.  Wanting to save enough juice to safely descend, I made the hard decision to turn around shy of the summit.  You can see in this photo where my tracks stop.

Video of rappelling into a large crevasse on the descent.

After the final rappel (I think we did 6 total, as I shared ropes with the Basque climbers), I began to run down the snow.  In my haste, I went the wrong way, and ended up dead-ending on top of this beautiful 80 foot WI5 pillar.  I couldn't get far enough over the lip to get to the good ice to build a V-thread, and the snow above was so wet a and soupy from the afternoon sun that I wouldn't have hung my hat off anything but he largest imaginable bollard, which I did not have a shovel to build.  Being out of snow pickets (I had left both on previous rappels), I sadly resigned my tired self to re-climbing probably 800-1000 feet to join back up with the correct descent route.  Just as I was about to head back up, however, I noticed something in the snow.  A little digging revealed that it was a piece of webbing tied to a snow stake, I was saved!  I buried that sucker way under the snow and rappelled down the ice pillar.

Looking back up, you can see that I took the snow ramp in the middle, when I should have gone to climber's left (skier's right).

Upon returning to high camp, Tony cooked me dinner and I passed out.  The next day we descended to base camp, radioed the arrieros, and then descended all the way to Huaraz. What a shock going from high camp at 17kft all the way to the busy city in one day!  Here, I find a way to pass the time while waiting for our burros.

The dusty trail out of Ishinca Valley was polka dotted with many purple flowers.

Back in town, I needed to clean up.

So I shaved my whole face . . . except my upper lip :).

In town, Jared was feeling better, and was anxious to get on a mountain.  Tony's knee was bugging him so he wanted to sit this one out.  Thus Jared and I decided to go give Churup a try after I had rested only one full day.

Churup is a beautiful mountain that you can see from anywhere in town.  The imposing east face is ascended via technical mixed climbing up a weakness in the center of the face.

On the approach I felt very sluggish.  My boots felt like they were made of lead, and my pack felt massive (despite me packing what I felt was the bare minimum).  We set the alarm for 1am and tried to get to bed early.  Here, I am faking a smile just after waking.

There were two other people camped near us that planned to try the route. We started earlier than them, trudging up the endless moraine.  Eventually the moraine seemed to dead-end into what looked like a pitch of WI3.  We couldn't see very far with our headlamps, but figured this must be the way.  I led up, placing a few screws, about 90 feet or so to a rock ledge where the ice seemed to end at an over-hangning rock headwall.  After bringing Jared up we scanned around with our headlamps, trying to see where we needed to go.  It was at this time that we noticed the headlamps from the other two climbers, far to the left, at about our same elevation.  They appeared to still be hiking up the moraine.  Crap, we must have gone the wrong way!  

After rappelling back down the beautiful WI3 pitch, we found the missed turn, and resumed slogging up the moraine.  Thank you sir! may I have another?

Eventually the sun came up and we found our way on to the lower glacier.  This started with a traverse across, weaving through some crevasses. Eventually, the glacier turned from snow to ice, and funneled into an hourglass shaped couloir.  I resumed leading up this portion, having fun climbing,  but still feeling slow.  After topping out the hourglass couloir, nothing stood between us and the "start" of our route but a simple snow field.  The snow was thigh deep, and it was hiding several crevasses.  

Jared was leading the way, placing the occasional snow picket.  We were running behind, and I could tell he was trying to push the pace, but I could not keep up.  Several times I ended up doubled over, hacking, and gasping for breath.  I was supposed to lead the technical rock portion, as Jared didn't want to lead any mixed climbing.  I eventually had to admit that in this condition, I would be a danger to myself on lead.  I yelled up to Jared that I did not want to continue, even though it looked like we were just about to get to the fun part.  I know Jared was disappointed, as he was feeling strong, but he's a good friend and merely said, "OK", as if it were not big deal.

I hate bailing.  Even though this peak is nothing more than a side trip for most technical climbers who visit the Cordillera Blanca, it will be #1 on my list if I ever make it back.

Just after turning around Jared fell ass-first through a snow bridge into a crevasse.  He managed to catch and extract himself before the rope pulled tight, but that gave each of us a shot of adrenaline!

At the top of the hourglass couloir we found a comfortable seat on the lip of a 12" wide crevasse and built a V-thread to rappel from.

After getting back down from Churup, I took two full rest days.  Then Jared, Tony, and I wanted to try and summit a peak together.  We chose Pisco as it would give us a high(er) chance of success.  That said, the main route up Pisco is nothing more than a long approach to a long snow slog, and while I was excited to climb with both of my friends at once for the first time on the trip, I wasn't that stoked on the route.  Slogging should be used to get to the climb, not as the climb itself!

The morning that we were planning to leave, Tony's knee was still painful, so he decided not to go.  Sitting in the common room at Zarela's, neither Jared nor I were very stoked on Pisco.  Then we overheard two girls and a guy from Columbia talking about some route on a mountain called Huamashraju . . .

They were saying that it had a relatively short approach, great granite climbing (the route they were thinking of was 5.10a), bolted anchors, an a beautiful summit.  Compared to the long slog to no climbing that we were thinking of, this sounded like a much better idea!  So we promptly struck up a conversation and invited ourselves along.  At the last second the guy from Columbia got a guiding job with someone who wanted to climb Tocllaraju, so it would be Jared, me, Katty, and Maria.

Within an hour we were in a taxicab with two people we had never met heading for a climb on a peak we hadn't heard of (although it turns out the climb is visible from town).

Katty and Maria both turned out to be very experienced climbers, and it became clear by all of their newish state of the art gear, that they had some generous sponsors.  Katty had done numerous Yosemite big walls and submitted Everest, Maria had attempted some 8000m peaks, and Maria's husband had submitted Everest sans-O2.  

The taxi dropped us off in a field near a very small farming village, where we camped for the night.  The plan was for the arriero to meet us with burros the next morning.  All four of us had several exhausting climbs in the range already, so we tried to keep the pace of this trip as relaxed as possible.  

When we parked the car, many dogs ran up to us.  This little guy, in particular was super friendly.

The two girls made friends with this local lady, who asked us to come back and stay there again sometime!

Our friend the dog took a liking to us, and would not leave!  We started calling him Huamash.  He ended up following us all the way to base camp, sleeping outside the tents at night to guard us.  When we went to climb the route, he followed us all the way to the base, then somehow found his way back to base camp, where he was waiting for us when we came back!  I wish I could have taken him home with me!

From camp we had a great view of the route.

Upon seeing Jared and my stash of freeze-dried dinners, Katty and Maria became very upset and invited us to eat some of their dinner, which was a vegetarian feast with more good local fresh food than we could believe!  Why pack lightweight food to base-camp when you are hiring donkeys???

Being a rock climb, we didn't want to start until the rock had a chance to warm up.  Consequently, we set the alarm for 4am.  After all the 12am and 1am alarms on this trip, sleeping until 4 felt like I was sleeping untll noon!

The only beta we had for the route was that it was supposed to be 4 pitches, 5.10a, have bolted anchors, and start with a slab that has a first bolt you can't see from the ground.  Well, after much wandering back and forth along the bottom of the wall, we couldn't tell where the start of the route was.  Not to be deterred, we did see a nice looking crack system that ascended the left side of the face, so decided to climb that.  

The size of the face, angle, and type of rock all reminded me of Tahquitz in Southern California, solid granite with splitter cracks!

After about 3 1/2 pitches our route hit the ridge.  After 2 more pitches, we reached the top of the rock and the start of the snow.

The views weren't too bad from the ridge . . .

Katty and Maria climbed together and weren't too far behind us.  Maria is more of a mountaineer than rock climber and seemed to get a big kick out of all the great exposure that the knife-edge ridge had to offer.

Jared, on the snow approaching the top.

Summit baby,yeah!

Katty and Maria coming up behind us.

Look at those sweet shades!

Group summit photo.

After summiting we were able to locate the top of our originally-intended route, so we used the bolted anchors to descend.  Here we are working our way back down the upper snow field.

We used this opportunity to teach our Columbian friends the American phrase "cluster fuck" to describe the giant knot they were undoing.  

Later, Jared checked with the Casa de Guias in town, and discovered that there were no recorded ascents of our route.  A probable first ascent, SWEET!

After getting back to town, Jared, Katty, Maria, and Tony went out to celebrate.  I only had a couple hours until my bus was to pick me up and send me homeward bound, so everyone did their best to get me drunk enough to miss the bus so I could stay and climb some more.  (Un)fortunately even the shots of tequila couldn't keep me off the bus, so back to real life I went.  This trip was such a great adventure, and I made so many new friends, I can't wait until I can return!