Ascent of Nevado Ampato on 2008-07-23

Climber: Vic Hanson

Date:Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Nevado Ampato
    Elevation:20630 ft / 6288 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had a DNS hanging over my Nevado Ampato climb for seven months, so when Tim said he wanted to climb Ampato, as well as possibly Sabancaya and Hualca Hualca, I was eager to join him. A couple of days after our Chachani climb, we loaded up my van and after a few last minute purchases, headed out on the Chivay road at about 7:20 am. It was a beautiful sunny winter day here, and as soon as we got around Chachani we got our first view of Ampato in the distance. Unfortunately with all the canyons and mountains in between us, it is over a five-hour drive to get to the mountain, which is less than 50 miles from Arequipa. The road is good until the Puno turnoff, and then it is a mixture of bad pavement, gravel and construction most of the rest of the way. It has been recently paved for the last part, just before the Patapampa turnoff.

After stopping by the cemetery to add some kerosene to the fuel tank, we arrived at the 16,540' base camp in the early afternoon. I decided to sleep in the van but Tim set up his tent in one of the nice campsites there. As soon as the sun went down behind the mountains at about 4:15, it really began to get cold, so we started on an early dinner. I have been making grilled cheese sandwiches on the trails and mountains lately, using a small light fry pan. I had just bought a large fry pan to speed up the process with more than one person, and was trying it for the first time that evening. It held all eight (small) sandwiches but with the cold and a little wind, it made a better radiator than a fry pan, it wouldn't get hot enough. On Chachani we had used just my alcohol stove but as long as we could drive to base camp here, Tim brought his multi-fuel MSR stove as well. That soon got them toasty and we enjoyed a hot meal of grilled sandwiches, instant mashed potatoes (with more cheese) and tea.

We talked about doing Sabancaya first as a warm up, but because Ampato was our main objective, we decided to do that first and then attempt the others. In the morning it was about 15°F so the just risen sun felt good as we started up the mountain at 6:30. On my previous attempt in December, we had stayed down in a valley until we reached the glacier, but as there was snow now we went high to the right side on the snow as soon as possible. It turned out to be a good route, the snow was just right to give a good grip for crampons, but not soft enough for post holing in most cases, and the penitentes on the glacier weren't as bad as in December. The added snow above the glacier also made it possible to go straight up the steep slope just to the left of the summit plateau, rather than having to go way off to the left and traverse back along the ridge. There was a bit of mostly frozen gravel right near the top of the ridge, which made me a bit nervous, but Tim showed me the way up that and we arrived at the ridge at 1:55 pm.

In December the final climb to the summit was a fourth class scramble, but now it was an easy climb up the backside on good snow. At 2:00 pm we were enjoying the views from the summit, especially of Sabancaya and Hualca Hualca. We didn't see any signs of Juanita's friends but did see one piece of wood that obviously had been carried up there, as well as a modern marker sign just below the summit step. The descent on the gravel was a bit trickier, but again Tim talked me down step by step and we were soon in the snow and then back down to the glacier. This time my feet were fine in my new High Tech insulated boots, but Tim had gotten snow in one of his plastic boots and had a very cold foot, so he headed down quickly trying to get to the tent before the sunset. Going down I realized just how steep the route was, and being a bit tired, took it very slow and cautious on the descent being it was only my forth time on crampons. I arrived at camp about a half hour after Tim, and we had a repeat of the previous night's dinner.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4080 ft / 1243 m
    Trailhead:Base camp  16550 ft / 5044 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Tent Camp

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