Ascent of Ritacuba Blanco on 2014-12-25

Climber: Kristian Kalsing

Others in Party:Ida Vincent
Date:Thursday, December 25, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Ritacuba Blanco
    Elevation:17749 ft / 5409 m

Ascent Trip Report

For logistics and beta we took advantage of this excellent trip report by Rob Woodall. All the information was still valid, so I only have a few complimentary comments.

Guican had occasional power outages while we were there. No big deal. But it does mean that the bank and the ATM can be out of service for hours, so make sure to load up with the cash you need before going there.

In Guican we stayed at Posada Brisas del Nevado next to the bank 10-15 meters from the town square where the bus drops you. Highly recommended! They have a couple of lovely rooms out the back in a separate building with great views and the restaurant is fantastic. Google Maps pins it at the wrong location, but it's a very small town so just ask any local to point you there. We organised transport to and from the trailhead through this hotel to.

After the climb, we stayed further down in El Cocuy. This is a very charming and pleasant town, so I definitely recommend spending a night there either on the way in or out.

Park permits can be bought at National Parks offices in either Guican or El Cocuy. They are open during normal business hours and closed over lunch. They will ask to see a health/medical proof of insurance. We just showed our regular US health insurance cards and they were happy with those.

In the park, we stayed at Cabanas Kanwara by the trailhead. Great place to stay with excellent food.

We spend two days doing acclimatization hikes before going for the summit in one push on the third day. On arrival day, we hiked up to 13,860 feet on the ridge behind Cabanas Kanwara. On the second day, we hiked up to 16,200 ft on the main route up Ritacuba Blanco.

The approach and route across the glacier is straightforward. We didn't rope up until the very end when we were at the spot where the attached photo was taken.

The final snow climb to the summit is very exposed. The snow was slightly loose and wet, so the footholds could have been better. Protection is definitely recommended. A 30 m rope was just enough to reach between a picket at the bottom of the exposed pitch and a picket on the summit.

The altitude was by far the biggest challenge for us on this climb. In hindsight, we would have added an extra day of acclimatization.

Various spots along the route between 14,500 and 15,500 feet have good 4G mobile coverage. This gives you an opportunity to check the latest weather forecast.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Final approach to summit block (2014-12-25). Photo by Kristian Kalsing.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5128 ft / 1562 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5128 ft / 1562 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.7 mi / 18.8 km
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5008 ft / 1526 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4669 ft / 1423 m; Extra: 339 ft / 103m
    Loss on way in:339 ft / 103 m
    Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Start Trailhead:13080 ft / 3986 m
    Time:9 Hours 25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4789 ft / 1459 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4669 ft / 1423 m; Extra: 120 ft / 36m
    Gain on way out:120 ft / 36 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.2 km
    End Trailhead:13080 ft / 3986 m
    Time:4 Hours 34 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Kristian Kalsing
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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