Refugio Ishinca to Lago Ishinca to Refugio Ishinca.
Waking up with the sun! Sun peeking over Tocclaraju (6034 meters, 19,797 feet).
Game plan: Day hike from Refugio Ishinca (4390 meters, 14,403 feet) up to Lago Ishinca at 4990 meters, 16,371 feet.
Blue skies and hot sun and elevation. The absolutely perfect recipe for constant jaw dropping and copious sweating. I ascended through two hanging valleys with green grass, squiggly rivers, and cows to boot. I want to learn from this gardener…
First vista of Palcaraju (mountain on right). 6274 meters. 20,584 feet. To me, the summit looks like a shark fin. As all mountains are fierce and strong, this one is particularly burly. From my previous journey into Quebrada Cojup, I was privy to its south side and west face. This mountain claimed the lives of two of Gary’s good friends, Gil and Ben, in 2012…after a first ascent of the west face. The descent, more often than not, is the culprit.
Looking north west, the upper basecamp refugio is in the bottom of the picture frame. Mountains pictured: Nevada Urus (set of mountains middle to left) and Akilpo and Tocclaraju in the clouds on the right. Breathing heavily after yesterday’s stupid slog, standing at over 16,000 feet.
Lago Ishinca, with Ishinca (5530 meters, 18,143 feet) hiding in the clouds.
Here’s a quick giggle:
So when I sat down for lunch with my sunglasses on, looking at the lake, there was something on my glasses. A black spot. I wiped it off. But then a few minutes later it was there again. A tiny black spot, obviously on my sunglasses. After positively wiping it off for a second time, I was boggled when it appeared again.
I took of my glasses. The spot was still there. Clearly, Julie, there’s something in the lake. Woop! Gone again. Ah ha! Whatever it is, it’s alive! I whipped out my binoculars (thanks Gary!) and was immediately enthralled by this duck. A duck! Yes, a duck living in a lake way too high in the mountains. Gray bill, black head/neck, brown body. There were two of them.
My lunchtime entertainment was watching these two ducks paddle around and dive every 30 seconds. Nature is so cool.
By this point I’m thinking:
How awesome is this? The Quebrada all to myself again for a second night. Yes! Yesterday, although ridiculous, is now proving itself worth it.
And then I rounded the last bend in the upper switchbacks, only to see my tent in the distance, behind the refugio…with three people approaching the refugio.
Boom. Solitary mountain session has done been interrupted. I can see them. They can probably see me. No worries about my tent and my food and my sleeping bag… I’ll be there soon.
…20 minutes later…
¿Subiste el cumbre? (Did you summit?) – guys
Ha! No, solo camine al lago arriba. (No, I only walked to the high lake.) -me
¡Estas sola? (Are you alone?) -guys
Si, por supuesto. (Yup, for sure.) -me
I chuckled and then sat down with Ivan, Joel, and Lenny. They were as shocked to me coming down the side valley as I was to see them hiking near the refugio. Their plan: summit Urus tomorrow morning.
We talked all afternoon and Joel hiked up the side of the quebrada to scope the beginning of the snow route. Kind, awesome guys. Their gear and knowledge of mountains…debatable.
Great success. Bed by 7:30pm.