Ascent of Nevado Ausangate on 2014-05-30

Climber: Bradley R

Date:Friday, May 30, 2014
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Nevado Ausangate
    Elevation:18400 ft / 5608 m

Ascent Trip Report

Frank (a coworker) and I decided we wanted to challenge ourselves in attempting a high peak, we chose to attempt a peak of 20,000+'. We both understood we were amateurs in climbing, and limited in time we could take off of work. We found a mountain in Peru with an 8 day itinerary with reasonable travel to the start point and a guide who spoke English well. The climb included an acclimatization climb up Mount Jampa ~18,000'.
The total time away from society would be 8-9 days.
Flying into Cusco, Peru we had no symptoms from the altitude of 10,000'. We took one full day in Cusco, then started our trip. Next we took buses and taxis to a village w/o electricity at 14,000'. I had no symptoms while awake, but awoke with a headache (ibuprofen handled the headache). The next day we started hiking, and reached the base camp for Mount Jampa. The next morning, at 2 AM, we started the climb up Jampa. I threw-up first thing in the morning. We started our climb up rock and I couldn't catch my breath. Our guide told me if my breathing didn't get better by the time the sun came out we would have to turn around. We reached the glacier as the sun came out and for the 1st and maybe last time I felt really cold. The guide didn't mention anything about turning around. Frank and I were both already exhausted. We all put on crampons got an ice ax and roped off to one another. It was my 1st time using crampons or ice ax. I felt comfortable pretty quickly. From here Frank became more sick than I, he would throw up on every significant hill we would meet, and probably threw up 5+ times on the climb. On one hill we both agreed to turn around once we reached our guide, but when we got to the guide everything was much flatter. We didn't hit another steep hill until we could see the summit. Two more sharp hills and we reached the summit of ~18,000' at noon, 10 hours of hiking. I asked our guide if anyone had reached this point at a later time with him, he said "no, but you did make it". Frank was very sick at this point, and fell asleep at the summit, our guide got very nervous for him and we hustled off the mountain as fast as we could, a painful experience.
After coming down from Jampa our guide went to where our next camp was supposed to be, but our porters weren't there. The guide was very upset, especially with how sickly Frank was. We hiked another several hours heading to a village, but spotted one of our porters along the way. It was nice to lay down, Frank struggled the entire time to camp.
The next day, the 4th on the mountain, was a needed rest day.
Day 5 I woke up with food poisoning, my body purged everything, and I was unable to eat, near the end of the day our guide again suggested to me that we turn-back, but said the decision was mine. We moved forward, it was an easy/short hike.
Day 6 I felt much better, though still weak. Today's climb was much more difficult through rock snow and ice. It was a tough day, but we reached high base camp for Ausangate at ~17,000'.
Day 7 Attempt on Ausangate - We started at midnight, as a group we were probably in the best shape we'd been, but I do believe I was the weak point. We climbed in crampons and then snow shoes. Calves screamed in pain on the hills. Initially our guide told us we had until noon to reach the peak, but when he saw the condition of the snow the turn-around time became earlier and earlier. At around 4 AM he called it, saying the snow was too dangerous for avalanche. We had reached ~18,400'. We spent the rest of the day making it back to civilization, reaching a village around 5 PM. The entre distance back I was lagging behind Frank and the guide, at times I couldn't even keep up when a porter was carrying my pack.
The trip was beautiful, and an amazing challenge. I was disappointed we didn't reach the summit of Ausangate, but happy we made it as far as we did.

Weather was perfect for the whole trip.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Headlamp, Ski Poles, Snowshoes, Guide, Porters, Animal/Pet, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:7 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cold, Calm, Clear
Ascent Part of Trip: Ausangate

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Mount Jampa2014-05-27 
 (Attempt) Nevado Ausangate2014-05-30 

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