Urus Este (5420m) – East Ridge (PD 50°)

Phil Crampton, Evan Richardson and I climbed a variation on the East Ridge of Urus Este on July 6th, 2018.  Urus Este served as one of our acclimatization climbs, and it was an enjoyable day out in the Cordillera Blanca.

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Urus Este with our route marked.  The normal route moves right to avoid the steep snow couloirs that flank the East Ridge.

I joined an expedition to the Cordillera Blanca organized by Phil’s company, Altitude Junkies. In Phil’s words, the goal of the trip is to teach participants how to organize their own trips to a major mountain range.  Throughout the trip, I took detailed notes on logistics, collecting information that will help me plan for future trips.  Phil has a wealth of information and is eager to share.

Percy, Aleks and Em near the summit on the East Ridge.

We left the refugio at 4am to start our climb.  The first 400m of the climb is on a climber’s trail, which was relentlessly steep and strenuous.  The altitude was brutal, especially once we got above 5000m.  We’d been using a cautious acclimitization schedule, so I was surprised to be suffering so much from the altitude.

On the 5420m summit of Urus Este.  Ranrapalca stands tall across the valley.

Once we put on crampons, we made quick progress up a gully to the broad glacier.  From here, we climbed a variation up a nice snow couloir to gain the East Ridge.  I led our rope team up to the summit, where we relaxed and enjoyed the perfect weather with incredible views of the surrounding peaks before descending.  We arrived back at base camp after 7 hours on the move.  We celebrated late into the night with a little too much vino tinto in the refugio.

Time for some tinnies in the sun with the boys.

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