Trip Report
Chopicalqui (6,354 M) and Converting to "Sport Clxxxxxg"
Friday August 9, 2013 5:57pm
After a not so successful trip to Laguna Cayesh Hamik and I needed some motivation to get back to the mountains. There is probably no better way to get psyched about climbing mountains than flailing on sport climbs, so we went to Hatun Machay. To our surprise there was a sport climbing competition which was set to start 30 minutes after our arrival. "North Face sponsored climbers from Lima are gonna be there," someone told me. Even though we do not really sport climb back in CA, and never compete in it, we decided to be open-minded and give it a shot. Competition involved doing as many routes as you can in four hours. Routes were given a certain amount of points based on difficulty, and participants were given a bonus for climbing the same route. We thought this played to our advantage and each climbed twelve routes in four hours (most in 5.10-5.11a range). Both of us led every pitch to get as many bonus points as possible. Highlight for me was getting to wear a 'gopro' on an attempt at "Fancy a Good Route" (5.11a). On a prior trip to Hatun Machay I onsighted it on lead, but took a fall following it on a following day. After minutes of huffing and puffing trying to figure out the crux once again, I got it clean. To our surprise we had a lot of fun. got placed 2nd in the competition and got some prizes as well. For the remainder of our trip we worked on some harder climbs and got our finger tips torn up - time to head for the mountains!

Chopicalqui (6,354 M)
Chopicalqui (6,354 M)
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Fancy A Good Route 5.11a (photo from a previous trip)

North Face sponsored the competition and we got a few small prizes

People who placed in the competition (Hamik and I got 2nd!)

On one of the nights we made pizza! Brought back good memories of working at Domino's and weighting 300 lbs

Ancient Petroglyphs in Hatun Machay

Peak of choice was Chopicalqui (6,354 M). When I started mountaineering back in 2010 I saw a photo of Chopicalqui's stunning summit pyramid and instantly put it on my bucket list. Seeing it at sunrise from Chacraraju was also incredible and strengthened my desire to climb it. The route of choice was 'normal' SW ridge. Climb wasn't technically as hard as our earlier ascents of Chacraraju Este, La Esfinge, or Alpamayo, but was physically exhausting due to altitude. Climbing SW ridge now has an opportunity to scope out the descent for East Face (route I hope to climb at some point in the future). Aside from high altitude this climb was a bit exhausting due to the style we chose. We got dropped off at about 4,100 M on day one and hiked in all the way to glacier camp at 5,600 M - approximately 4921 ft of elevation gain with 50 lb pack. Weather was unstable all day, but it begun to clear by sunset. One good news was erased by a bad one - Hamik got food poisoning and spent the night puking liquids out of every hole imaginable. Since the route we were going to do wasn't too challenging I decided to solo it. Starting up from tent after 4 am I made good time coming up. I saw headlamps of another American party about 1500ft below me. I felt lonely and really wanted them to catch up. But I kept on moving.


Chacraraju Oeste and Este seen from the approach

Navigating through a broken glacier

Hamik crossing a snow bridge

At one point I witnessed an incredible sunrise. Alpine glow hitting Huandoys was breath-taking. Just before that I got a little off route and traversed a very exposed slope under a giant cornice. When I was down-climbing I realized why I got off route - there was a 30 ft step that ascending parties belayed. This step had a vertical bulge at one point, and was significantly harder than crux of Liberty Ridge. Since I did not have a partner this down-climb was a little spicy - right over a giant crevasse. Huffing and puffing my way up I prayed for the summit to be over the next hill, but it wasn't, till I reached a short 70 degree snow step an hour or so later. Shortly after I got over it I saw the view that caught my attention a few years back - the summit pyramid! It was quite unreal to look at it in person, so I took a few photos and continued moving up. As I ascended there was another 25 ft snow step to get to the summit. After getting over it and hiking up a little more I was on top. Since Denali is 'only' 6,194 m, Chopicalqui became my new altitude record.


Views from camp during sunset

Huandoys during morning light show

Huascaran Sur and Norte

Views all around me were so good I took 20 minutes to take it all in. In the distance I saw Caraz I and II. Chacraraju Oeste and Este towered to the right. I saw Taulliraju, and on the opposite side of the peak were Huascaran and rarely climbed Ulta. Along with Cayesh these are some of the peaks I would love to climb in the future. I stood on the summit for a little longer and headed down. Since summit pyramid is so cool I took another 20 minute break sitting across from it. It was unreal. On the way down I caught up to a group of Americans and found out they turned around at the first steep step. When I got back to tent Hamik felt better and we decided to hike out. To our luck we got picked up by a bus heading straight to Huaraz and were back in town by sunset.

Chopi's Summit Pyramid

View towards Laguna 69 and Paron Valley


Trying to smile through a freezing wind :)

A few more pictures and many more reports could be found here:

  Trip Report Views: 3,526
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

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Comment on this Trip Report

  Aug 9, 2013 - 06:12pm PT
Nice work Vitaliy! Those pics are off the charts man, way to take advantage of such a beautiful place. Keep em coming!

Oakland, CA
  Aug 9, 2013 - 06:19pm PT
Vitaliy your photos are outstanding. What are you shooting with? And do you put in much post work, editing on comp? Cheers to you for another killer TR with beautiful photos. Just about every one is frame worthy.

Did you really used to weigh 300 lbs?
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Aug 9, 2013 - 06:26pm PT

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Aug 9, 2013 - 06:59pm PT
le_bruce, shooting with panasonic lumix. DMC 19 is the model as I remember. I usually edit some of the photos at times, like add contrast or add some saturation.
And yes, I used to be 300 lbs. Down to 185 now. Or who knows, I think I gained some weight in Peru. Been eating A LOT here. A lot to try!
Riley, How tall are you? I am 6'2.

right here, right now
  Aug 9, 2013 - 08:56pm PT

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Aug 9, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
stunning....I found myself trying to speed read just to get to the next picture. Oh boy. I see myself coming back to this TR a lot.


Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
  Aug 9, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
Awesome Trip Report as usual, Vitaliy!

I sure wish I had the time, money, and
Physical endurance to do what you have been doing.

Oh to be young and uninjured again. :(
Peter Haan

Trad climber
  Aug 9, 2013 - 11:09pm PT
Thanks V. You get around!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Aug 10, 2013 - 10:11am PT
I sure wish I had the time, money, and
Physical endurance to do what you have been doing.

I sure hope to be psyched about climbing at your age as much as you Dwain! You are incredible to say the least.
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
  Aug 10, 2013 - 11:06am PT
Nice! Good wishes to Hamik! Blown sh#t outta every hole imaginable in a whole slew of countries myself.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 10, 2013 - 12:37pm PT
Stellar, love the black and white picture.
Y'all are a bunch of sport climbers.....:)

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 12, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
pretty snow.

snow = death

therefore pretty = death


good TR.

the sport rock looks way fun tuff

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Sep 12, 2013 - 05:05pm PT
Man oh man, I'll be quite satisfied with my climbing career if in the rest of my life I get on half of what you've done in the last few years. Thanks for gettin' after it and taking us all for the ride we wish we had the time/focus/energy/discipline/prioritization/etc to do.
Tom Turrentine

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Sep 12, 2013 - 08:17pm PT
Fond memories of this beautiful mountain. Your photos help me remember more details- Glen Garland and I summited in clouds in 1977 so I only remember that long ridge. I got some nasty altitude-throat stuff on this one sleeping at 19,000. Descending the moraine in the dark was terrifying -rocks the size of UPS trucks moving around when I put my hand on them. Ran into a French climber Rene, who had flown a hang glider off Huascaran a few days before- flew with the condors. Spent the night in their base-camp- me hacking and wheezing, Glen sipping Cognac. Main porter asked to get my stuff if I died in the night. We hid a bottle of Pisco in the rocks by the road, shared it with locals, 20 of us pack into flatbed a truck for the descent- my throat cleared up at about 12,000 feet, drunk, sitting on the cab roof hooting at the top of my lungs, which finally worked.
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