Ishinca – NE Ridge (PD 60° 5530m)

Phil Crampton, Evan Richardson and I made a nice traverse of Ishinca on July 8th, 2018.  We connected several steep features to the right of the Northwest Slopes to gain the Northeast Ridge, which was climbed to the summit.  Our descent was down the Southwest Ridge.

I learned a lot about what going fast and light really means from Phil Crampton on this trip.  We charged out of the Ishinca Refugio at 3:00am, already harnessed up and ready to smash. We passed one team that had departed camp two hours before us, and then another.  Finally, we reached the edge of the glacier, quickly snapping into crampons.  With our harnesses already on, we didn’t have to stop for long and accordingly didn’t need to put on heavy jackets to stay warm.  If you never stop moving for more than a few moments, you don’t need heavy insulation.

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Taking a 1 minute break on a flat section of the East Ridge. A final steep section stood between us and the summit.

Above crampon point, the normal route veers left to stay on easy terrain.  We ignored the bootpack and began frontpointing up beautiful névé that reached 60 degrees.  Our line weaved around several crevasses until we arrived below a rock pinnacle.  We passed two more teams that had taken the normal route. From here, we traversed up and right until we gained the Northeast Ridge by climbing out of a large crevasse.

 

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Incredible views of Ranrapalca (6162m) from the summit of Ishinca.  The North Face (right side) saw an ascent while we were in the valley.  The team had to bivy on the descent at 5800m.
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Evan working hard to catch a breath on the 5530m summit.

After climbing a final steep section, we pulled onto the summit.  Only 4 hours had passed since we left the refugio, 1130m below.  Use of a high camp was previously the norm for this peak – we’d turned this climb into a morning cruise rather than a two-day affair. Breathing hard, we spent no more than two minutes on top. I led us down a short downclimb through a break in the summit cornice.  Pushing forward, we made quick time down the Southwest Ridge and across a mellow glacier.  I had to take a multitude of photos of Ranrapalca, an amazing-looking mountain fortress that I hope to come back for.  A long descent brought us to the refugio, where we arrived 7 hours after leaving. The afternoon was spent eating pasta and lounging in the sun.

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Photo break on the descent.
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Looking back at Ishinca on the descent.

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