A tale of two mountains

19 June 12.  Chachakomani.   Sunday night saw twelve of the team heading up to high camp in preparation for the second wave of attempts on Chachakomani. After negotiating the rocky 400m ascent everyone quickly headed for their sleeping bags to catch a few hours sleep before the 0200 wake up call. The air was crisp on waking up but spirits were lifted by a breakfast of porridge and bread and the teams stepped onto the glacier shortly after 0300.

Moving across the glacier we were grateful for the tracks laboriously carved into the mountain by the first group of summiteers. These were useful in moving quickly and also clearly showed some of the potential navigational pitfalls- one rather long detour taken by one of the previous groups, due to an uncrossable crevasse, was carved clearly into the snow! Some claimed they also saw a few teddybears littered along the descending part.

The cold night allowed us to move quickly at the lower altitudes to which we had become relatively accustomed. However as we reached new heights the air became thinner the slopes became seemingly longer. A subtle manoeuvre to beat the tiredness was to place forehead on trekking poles whilst gasping for air- I don’t think the other rope members noticed.

As the sun came up we were treated to beautiful views of the glacier itself and across Bolivia, a special panorama of Lake Titicata and rolling mountains. The summit itself was some reward for the hard slog- a spectacular knife edge ridge which required concentration whilst snapping photos at the top!

The teams then headed back down the glacier to escape the increasing temperatures and softening snow. A fantastic day was capped by all four ropes summiting. Jon Naylor and Mike led by Pedro; Toms Wooley and Blankenstein led by Ade Mellor; Kelly, Bob and Dave led by Andy Brown; and Andy Lumley, Sally and Jo led by Felix.

Exhausted, everyone spent some time basking in the sunshine at high camp- after a small sample of blood for for research purposes. A superb day was complete when returning to the valley to hear of the similar successes of the other team members on Pata Patami and dinner and nightly cards game were held in high spirits!

Mike West

Pata Patamni.  As the Chachakomani team disappeared into the dusk, the conversation base camp turned to how warm everyone was and how comfy the sleeping arrangements were down here. A mammoth card day was rounded off with a 2 hour session of Sh*thead, which escalated somewhat when various forfeits were introduced. The main antagonist of this was Andy Gibson, the rest of us needed little encouragement to follow, however. The evening was made more memorable as most of the forfeits introduced, were served by the antagonist himself! Thanks for the wets Andy!

Monday: The team woke for their 7am breakfast with keen expectations for the day ahead. Eagerness soon turned to disbelief on the initial ascent to the ridge of Pata Patani when news came in that the Chachakomani team had already summited and were nearly back at high camp. Only and hour and a half in to our ascent and the other team were back in their hutch! Debate raged furiously across the team as to how the other team had summited so fast…. “They set off early!”, “They’re Diamoxed to the eyeballs”, “They couldn’t have reached the summit… They will have turned back early” to name but a few straws clutched at.

After this the team set about the task in front of them. Helmets and harnesses were donned as the terrain became more treacherous. The team split into two ropes for the last bit of the ascent and were 45 minutes apart in summiting a great peak. Views of Lake Titicaca to one side were overlooked by the intimidating ice covered peak of the Andes to the other side. Stunning scenery.

The way down was just as eventful as the way up with some scree running to plummet into the hanging valley in quick time. There were a few slippers and tumblers but no one was injured.

A special mention must be made to Rob Macormack and Paul for hammering their way up to the top, which has resulted in every member of team 2 has summited one of the objective peaks!!!

Will Smith

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