After four days acclimatizing in Puno the pair arrived in Macusani, the nearest town to the range. Tom Ripley explains:
"We discovered that nobody spoke English or understood our limited Spanish. We were lucky to bump into Daniel, a Spanish catholic priest on a year's exchange, who spoke good English. After much explaining he finally understood where we wanted to go. (we had been unable to locate a map to the area in Lima!) He kindly drove us and our gear to the end of the nearest road and arranged for two donkey's to carry all our gear, to the edge of Laguna Chambine, where we planned to camp."
After acclimatizing sufficiently and making a reconnaissance of the face, the pair returned to base camp and sat out a period of bad weather. On August 22 they made the first ascent of their main objective; the South Face of Chichicapac.
"The most obvious line up the face was threatened by seracs, so we climbed a direct line up the centre of the face, encountering sustained and insecure mixed climbing, until the top headwall forced us leftwards. A short, but very loose rock chimney led us to the top part of the face. A long tricky pitch, followed by easier but very loose terrain, led to an easy snow slope and the summit plateau.
Having spent ten hours on the face we summited just before five that evening. Anxious to descend in daylight (sunset is at 5:30) we quickly descended the West ridge, before making a short abseil onto a small glacier that lead us to back to our bivi tent."
Being in the Southern Hemisphere conditions on Chichicapac's south face were similar to those that would be found on a European north face. The majority of the face was mixed climbing, involving powder snow on loose rock. The difficulties were quite sustained and most of the pitches were about Scottish IV/V with a couple of crux pitches of VI. The rock was generally poor and protection sparse. The route is 700 metres long with an overall alpine grade of TD.
The team would like to thank The Alpine Club, British Mountaineering Council and Mount Everest Foundation. Without their financial support the expedition would not have take place.
Tom and Hamish would like to add the following:
We had financial support from: The
BMC , MEF and Alpine Club Climbing Fund.
We were given gear by: Mountain Equipment , Teko , Walsh and Needle Sports.
We were lent tents by: Mountain Hardwear and Rab
Mammut, First Ascent, Aiguille Alpine and Lyon Equipment allowed us to by gear at trade price.