Trip Report
Chacraraju Este - Jaeger Route (ED1)
Tuesday July 30, 2013 2:35pm
Since my report is so different from Hamik's (;, I decided to post mine on ST as well...It was a dream of an adventure that both of us will remember forever.

Chacraraju Este (6,001 M / 19,688 ft), like Alpamayo, is a striking peak in Cordillera Blanca. But unlike Alpamayo it is a peak which sees only few attempts per year, if any, most of which end up being just that - attempts. The Research I did before our trip showed not much reason to be optimistic. The first report I found about an attempt at 'Jaeger route' (our route of choice) was named "Paralysed in Peru - Accident on Chacraraju." Second, was a youtube video from a sponsored German team, at the end of which the climbers complained about terrible conditions of corniced summit ridge. Third article I found, was from a well-known British pro-climber Nick Bullock. In 20 hours, tent to tent he and his partner established a new 'three-pitch direct variation' to Jaeger route but stated, "The summit was not climbed to, as life appeared more favorable." A few days after our adventure on Chacraraju Este I am sure our life appeared much more favorable than getting to the the peak, but being too stubborn deserves the credit for not calling it quits. The last 200 vertical feet took us close to four hours - we burrowed through sugar snow, fought hollow ice, attempted to aid a summit cornice with pickets, and used every possible trick we could think of before we reached the top in a complete white-out. This time the views were slim to none, but excitement, oh no, the FEAR was high - we still had to rapell from the unconsolidated and overhanging summit cornice, off of a single picket, create a dozen or so v-threads to abseil back down to a glacier in a white-out, and find our way down to our camp 2000 ft below - hiking through flurries of snow on unstable talus.

Chacraraju Oeste and Este
Chacraraju Oeste and Este
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Laguna Chinancocha - yes it was really that beautiful

Chacraraju Este's summit ridge at dawn

Every journey begins with some rest. Our post Quitaraju/Alpamayo rest was in Hatun Machay. We spent four days clipping bolts and "crushing gnar with our bros." By modern sport climbing standarts not "crushing" at all, but I was excited to onsight or red-point six 5.11As in first two days, which for me is good news. Mountain diet made up of Oreos must be working well, no matter how many I eat, my waist line shrinks. I was most excited about onsighting two of the area's 3/3 star 5.11As - "Welcome to Huaraz," and "Fancy a Good Route." The final sequence of the latter was one of the coolest finishes to any climb I have ever done - technical but at the same time powerful. Even Hamik was impressed with the finish and happy to get the onsight of this route. In addition to climbing rock, again, I hiked up a 4,800 M peak a few times to help my body acclimate. After the first couple of days my skin got worked and I was happy to do easier routes and some pull-ups back at the guest house. Quite funny, but our first mini epic of our trip happened on the way back from Hatun Machay - we barely escaped a shiver bivy and got picked up by a 'collectivo' (fun way to travel around) thirty minutes before sunset. This time we waited for a ride for close to two hours. Leave the hut earlier than 3pm, lesson learned!

Beautiful overhanging 5.11 at Hatun Machay

Hatun Machay after a snow dusting

Fancy a Good Route (5.11a)

After sending Fancy A Good Route - one of my favorite sport climbs ever!

Some South Americans at the hut had a hallucinogen party

Unreal how beautiful this flower is

When we got back to Huaraz, bought supplies for our alpine outing, and arranged our transportation, most of the local people were surprised to hear we were going to attempt Chacraraju - "No one climbs that peak, it is hard!" The worker at an entrance station to Huascaran National Park even tried to talk us out of attempting it! Cherry on top was a British guy we met at Laguna 69 - "Two climbers tried to climb it, but both died." My eyes bulged out in disbelief, but out of courtesy I kept my mouth shut. Some people are great (not really) at being supportive.

Chcraraju is scary, but beautiful in the same time

Summit cornice of Chacraraju Oeste

Good luck cow. Actually it woke us up couple times each night, hate that thing!

One of several positive things about attempting Chacraraju Este is a relatively short approach and a beautiful camp site. We took full advantage of our position and camped on shores of Laguna 69 for four nights. This area is famous for its scenery and attracts a myriad of tourists from Western world. The few negative things include an annoying cow that would wake us up at least a few times per night, and no trail through the glacier. Since Chacraraju does not draw crowds two Californians with limited glacier-travel experience had to navigate through a sea of giant crevasses and snow that at times was up to our hips. To my surprise, we did a good job and finished our outing with no crevasse falls or reached dead ends. Crux of this approach came when I was breaking trail through deep snow and started sinking a bit too deep for my liking. Turned out it was because there was a giant crevasse beneath me. After getting out and digging through several feet of fresh snow I found a solid snow bridge and overcame the problem.

Laguna 69 has one of the clearest alpine lakes I have ever saw. Clearer than Tulainyo in CA

Lenticular cloud above Chopicalqui

South Face of Chacraraju Oeste and Este

From below our route of choice looked fairly straight forward and we were quite surprised it was rated ED1. On overall difficulty rating of mountain routes ED is considered serious business. Difficulty rating goes from Facile (F) - easy, PD - a little difficult (DC on Rainier, West Buttress on Denali and other walk-ups on big peaks), AD - fairly difficult (Matterhorn, Hornli Ridge or East Face of Mt. Whitney), D - Difficult (North Buttress of Slesse, or NE ridge of Bugaboo Spire), TD - Very Difficult (Beckey-Chouinard on South Howser Tower, Harding Route on Keeler Needle) and ED stands for extremely difficult and closes the rating system. For example, North Face of the Eiger is rated ED2. Difficulties we could not spot from the bottom were found close to the top.

Chopicalqui at sunset

Chacraraju Este

Laguna 69

Laguna 69 from above

Mighty South Face of Chacraraju Oeste

With no clouds and sky full of stars we left our tent thirty minutes past midnight. Having done the approach most of the way up the glacier on the day prior we cut our time by couple of hours. A team of three climbers from Chile repaid us a favor and picked up our work. They broke trail all the way to the bergshrund, which saved us time and energy. They camped on the glacier and we were surprised they did not get on the route earlier than us. We simul-climbed or soloed majority of the route with occasional picket or ice screw placement between us. After about six blocks of that we pitched out several pitches due to more complex climbing than we were willing to simul. The climbing ranged from solid blue ice to one centimeter of ice over loose rock, and traverses over spines of vertical powder. It was quite different from anything I have ever encountered in the mountains. This was no Sierra Nevada!

Trail breaking through sea of crevasses and knee deep snow

Hamik with NE face of Huandoy Sur in the background

Nice crossing

Relaxing back at camp - views from our tent were great

Stressing over the summit ridge again..

The climbing community often debates over "do summits matter?" question. Even though it is quite silly to ask, it produces a variety of valid points from both sides of the argument. For me this question has a variety of answers in different situations. On Chacraraju Este, the summit mattered beyond any doubt. After I finished a pitch and built a solid belay station bellow the summit ridge, Hamik took the next lead and traversed left bellow the summit cornice. By summit cornice I mean something that looks like a snow and ice castle of an evil villain in a fairy tale. With increased difficulties of our climb, the weather changed too. Clear day turned cloudy and by the time Hamik was half way done with the pitch we were in a white out. This traverse took a long time as he tried to burrow through the cornice at it's low point and use every trick up his sleeve to scale the summit ridge. When he was unable to climb up it, he tried to aid it with pickets which didn't quite work with sugar snow dumping on him every time he tried to make an axe placement, or put in a picket. After he traversed a rope-length left and made a DNF belay anchor, I understood why it took so long to complete the pitch when I began to follow.

As psyched as it gonna get at 12:30am

Above the clouds pre-dawn. That will change soon!

Cool snow formations and steepness

Chopicalqui, Huascaran Sur, and Norte at dawn

Upper portion of the climb

Traversing below a cornice which at times was overhanging and pushing me off balance, majority of my foot placements were in unconsolidated powder snow which collapsed under my weight. Some sections we passed required more prayer than skill, making run-out WI5 climbing feel like child's play. I attempted to aid a section Hamik gave up on, but also had no luck. Every time I tried to place something above our solid picket I got a face full of snow. When I got to the belay he told me about an epic fall he suffered while attempting to aid it. Thank god I did not see it, and could not feel it neither since he fell directly on to the picket while still being connected to it. At the crux of the traverse I had to down-climb ten feet and another 40 feet left to the next placement - an ice screw in a rare block of ice. Falling here would be a disaster. With 30 foot ice hangers below, powder gargoyles all around, minimal visibility, and a cornice pushing down on me, it took a lot of mental strength to piece together a sequence to the belay. At one point I was on an actually overhanging section with less than solid ice tool placements and feet scratching for placements in sugar. When I got up to our belay, I forgot about the amount of time it took Hamik to climb these 60 meters, all I could say was "good lead."

Chopicalqui, and Huascarans during sunset. Incredible view.

Hamik climbing high up on Jaeger Route

Above the clouds - not for too long

Chopicalqui is a peak I would love to climb!

Me following a traverse high on the face (photo by Hamik M.)

With my eyes still bulged, I saw our last hurdle. It was finally possible to mount the summit cornice and traverse back right to the summit. Final encouragement from Hamik was - "if you feel like you are falling, make sure to fall to the north." "Thanks buddy, that helped." I stomped a starting platform and cleared a foot of fresh snow from the top to get some purchase. At first I crawled, using both my axes to balance my body from peeling off into unknown. Than it got wider and I was able to get up and walk with caution. I went up another hill and realized it was the high point of the ridge. Shouting with joy I belayed Hamik up. Yells of joy ended after a summit photo and a game of rock, paper, scissors - PERVERTED variation (if picket fails the winner will die quick, but the loser will freeze to death after a few days). This time we were not playing for who will eat a chocolate bar, but who would rappell from a backed up picket. Even though I won this game, chances of a picket vertically buried in powder snow holding a fall were not encouraging. I buried our main anchor as a T-slot (horizontally), said a small prayer and went over the lip. It held for both of us.

View of Chacraraju Oeste and summit ridge (photo by Hamik M.)

Us happy on the summit (just before Rock, Paper, Scissors)

Summit ridge of Chacraraju Este

Rapping first from the summit. Scary s#!t! (Photo by Hamik)

Hamik rappelling from an overhanging summit cornice. Wildest rap of our lives!

Hamik on one of our raps

V-thread backed up with a screw

With hours of day-light fading we started rappelling our route. Making V-threads for most of our anchors we developed a good system with Hamik constructing and me dealing with rope. We were able to thread the rope directly through our V-threads and leave no tat on the mountain. The only 'booty' we left were three pickets. Our system worked smoothly and we were able to rap the majority of south face in day-light. As we got lower down it started to snow, but visibility slightly increased. As we got closer to the bergshrund we saw the lights from Chileans camping on the glacier and realized we were getting closer to safety. We down-climbed last 100 meters of 55 degree snow and made our way to say "hello" to our new friends. They passed us a tasty drink and seemed sincerely happy about us summiting - "it is extremely rare for anyone to summit Chacraraju, you are first this year." With our primitive Spanish and their limited English we spoke about climbing, shitty weather, and food before hiking about 2000 ft down to our camp at Laguna 69. Twenty two hours after we started our journey we got back to camp, unfortunately to find our tent soaked by melting snow. I devoured a pack of top ramen and passed out. Unfortunately, as we packed our camp we saw the climbers from Chile descending back down from glacier camp, due to weather without making an attempt to climb. I hope they have more food and time to make another attempt at the route.

Huandoy seen from the valley - a giant face

AND I finally gathered courage to eat CUY! (guinea pig)

On our way back to Huaraz we met many other people, including a group of Austrian tourists who offered us a ride to Yungay. Making it back to our hotel before sunset was a treat, this time we were able to get out and celebrate our climb with a good meal (two meals and two cones of ice cream in my case). Relaxing in Huaraz is great, but there is more rock climbing to be done. 'The Sphynx' is calling! I'm psyched to make it out to Paron Valley (;.

  Trip Report Views: 3,210
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

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Boulder climber
  Jul 30, 2013 - 05:05pm PT
You guys are Rad!!! Climb safe down there boys...TFPU!!

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Jul 30, 2013 - 05:15pm PT
wow, its not very often that looking at pictures on the internet makes me make noises in real life. i really enjoyed your pics.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jul 30, 2013 - 11:43pm PT
lol, thank you kahola. This place is breath-taking! Would recommend as a destination for rock climbers, hikers/trekkers and alpinists/mountaineers. There is a lot to see for all.

  Jul 30, 2013 - 11:44pm PT
Wow, super cool.

Gym climber
Marathon, FL
  Jul 31, 2013 - 01:29am PT
So your a sport climper now eh. Nice job climbing that mountain you crazy bastards, sounds GNAR. Nice work.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jul 31, 2013 - 01:48am PT
Holy buckets Madge!

And the photos, WooooooBoy!

Trad climber
  Jul 31, 2013 - 03:45am PT
Great pics and exciting read!
Rivet hanger

Trad climber
  Jul 31, 2013 - 04:55am PT
Congratulations for the route and very nice photos! Jaeger route is a hard job and that mountain is among the hardest ones in Cordillera Blanca.
However, this route is still frequently repeated as long as is the "easiest" one.
The two people who died (in summer 2010) where two Spanish young climbers (Dani Crespo and Álex Bonilla) that were trying to open a new route on the west peak. A cornice fall blew them out of the face and an arriero saw it (otherwise, the corpses wouldn't have been found). They had repeated the Simpson/Yates route aka Touching the void (untill 150 m under the summit because of the sugar snow) on Siula Grande and Chacraraju's Jeager route before the accident.
In addition, in summer 2011, two Catalan climbers (Baró and Coromines) repeated the north pilar of the east peak, which is a mix of the Slovenian and Terray route and a little new section.
In 1978, three Spanish climers (Miguel Ángel Vidal, Carlos Gallego and Ignacio Hernández) also did an outstanding repeat of Bouchard route on the west peak.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jul 31, 2013 - 09:44am PT
So your a sport climper now eh.

;) Have to get stronger so you take me climbing more often, and I don't feel like such a whimp in comparison.

Rivet hanger, thank you for more information about the peak. By West Peak do you mean Oste? Or peak in the middle? There seems to be a peak in the middle (between Oeste and Este) that I bet has never been climbed, or maybe climbed a few times at most...?

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 31, 2013 - 10:46am PT
Beautiful pics!!!
Rivet hanger

Trad climber
  Jul 31, 2013 - 12:34pm PT
I guess there are just two peaks (west-oeste and east-este).
Chacraraju north face with the west peak (left) and the est pe...
Chacraraju north face with the west peak (left) and the est peak (right). Picture taken from Chopicalqui's normal route
Credit: Rivet hanger
South face of Chacraraju with the east peak (left) and the wes...
South face of Chacraraju with the east peak (left) and the west peak (right).
Credit: Rivet hanger
The peak you say in the middle seems just a plateau or a west peak shoulder between the two peaks...

By the way, congrats for you ascent in la Esfinge. Really nice route!
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Jul 31, 2013 - 12:38pm PT
Damned Vitaly, your charging it this year. Another great TR and climb, thanks.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 31, 2013 - 02:25pm PT
Good job Vittles, your photography would win awards if you submitted it.
Bad Acronym

Little Death Hollow
  Jul 31, 2013 - 04:41pm PT
Incredible. Everything. The pics, the writing, the journey, the summit. Amazing.

Trad climber
  Jul 31, 2013 - 04:43pm PT
So very cool. Tremendous mental and physical effort. Loved your pics and TR too!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
Sad to report, but an Argentinian climber died attempting the peak after our climb. I think he was part of a different group, not from the party we met. Also a party from AAC attempted the route but turned around after they survived an avalanche - by some kind of miracle. Burly peak.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Aug 31, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
Phreakin' awesome! Love your reports. You'll cherish those pics for the rest of your life.

Well done.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Aug 31, 2013 - 01:57pm PT
Nice TR, Vitya! Dug the shots except for that disgusting rodent dish.
Really liked the ridge shot of the steps and the rope.

But you were mean not to take you-know-who along.

Social climber
  Jan 28, 2016 - 05:18pm PT
I didn't post the first time i read of my all time fav's here. You guys have memories you will never forget. But, Ginnea pig is tasty...
Todd Eastman

Social climber
Putney, VT
  Jan 28, 2016 - 07:01pm PT
One of the best TRs ever!

It's fun to have so many pics to get a feel for the landscape.

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jan 28, 2016 - 07:34pm PT
Yes. It is an awesome climb....likely the reason I have a few gray hairs before turning 30! :)

  Jan 28, 2016 - 08:15pm PT
Epic crazy s h i t! Beautiful pictures as always. I think I missed this during my ST hiatus.

  Jan 28, 2016 - 10:06pm PT

there are a couple of those shots that look like an alpine mordor...

glad you guys were able to successfully thread the loaded needle...
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