Finding my self in Huaraz, Peru — and with only a single day of freedom between remote-work and the pandemic lockdowns, I decided on attempting some solo adventure on one of the nearby peaks.
Being rainy season in a wetter than normal La Nina year, the peaks above the town had rarely been visible. Despite this, a few glimpses of Rima Rima, a rocky pyramid rising high above began to pique my curiosity.
Hastily researching my options, Rima Rima seemed the most attainable due to the crevasse dangers present on the snow-covered peaks of Vallunaraju and Charup.
The only trip report of the mountain I could find was by a person who appeared to be a fairly inexperienced mountaineer who’d summited on his second attempt with his friend. There was no mention of a technical roped ascent, and the telling of the trip had the flavor of a 4th class 14er.
Thinking I’d literally be going for a walk in the park (Parque Nacional Huascarán), I purchased my entry ticket and a sparsely detailed topo map of the area.
I researched the approach, but very little else. — This turned out to be an immense oversight.
Leaving my apartment in downtown Huaraz in the pre-dawn hours I passed a few early risers and several packs of vicious dogs.
Nearing the base of the mountain, I deviated from the road’s switchbacks and went direct through an alpine valley which accommodated a couple huts, several gardens, and a couple livestock roped to stakes.
I re-gained the road and and made my way for the area where I’d chosen to begin. Following a channel carved by running water, I made my way up.
Two distinct 10′ headwalls composed of loose moss and grass bundles, formed improbable problems which I solved quite precariously and foolishly given the consequences of a fall onto the rocks below. After climbing the second, and much more difficult section, I gave it an old-school 5.9 grade with a modern revision to 5.10b moss-choss.
Climbing out of the water runnel I made my way up the mountain side through an expanse of grass and boulders broken up by rocky steps which eventually turned into long runs of low angled granite slabs.
I thought of the similarity of the slabs to my home crag, enchanted rock.
By this time, my lack of sleep, nutrition, and proper fitness, combined with the ever increasing altitude to make progress much more trying.
I battled my way through this exhaustion by reminding myself of the inevitability of afternoon storms.
Upward I scrambled over what turned into a boulder field through the fog-like mist rising up from below.
What seemed like an eternity passed, and finally there I was at a cairned summit. Falsely believing I’d made the summit of Rima Rima, I felt a relief and a readiness to begin the long descent back to town.
Snapping photos of the nearby peaks, suddenly to north the clouds parted to reveal the true summit of Rima Rima.
The dreadful sight pierced my consciousness like a dagger through the chest.
The lack of desire to climb this peak was very real.
Some sort of pressure from within pushed back against this.
I told my self that I at least had to traverse the ridge, and get to the base, just to have a look.
With my camera still in hand, I snapped a quick photo just before the clouds returned to hide it from view.
I had some fun making a video while walking along the knife edge ridge.
Soon, however, things were about to get very serious.
Through a shower of sleet, I approached what seemed to be the path of least resistance. A direct line up a blocky section in the center of the face. After soloing past several harrowing death blocks through the mud and moss I reached a slanted and insecure ledge. Looking at the rock above, I noticed what seemed to be a path leading up and left over an exposed section high on the wall. Past that, I could’t see where the route would lead. Already concerned about down climbing what I’d just done, I decided against taking the line above. I traversed the ledge right in hopes of finding an alternate way up through the jumbled mess of rock. At that moment, I laid eyes on some old tat draped around a cone shaped horn. The sight of the slings cemented my thoughts of retreat, and I proceeded to descend the icy slopes back to the base of the wall. Carefully I made my way down an exposed section from a different angle than I’d ascended, this led me directly below the deathblocks I’d nearly trundled on my way up. Knowing how little held them in place, I made haste to down climb as quickly as possible without disturbing anything that might somehow be connected to them.
I looked over at a ramp leading east across the base of the headwall and knew it would hold a possibility for upward progress.
Everything in me wanted to turn around, to go back across the ridge and down the grassy slopes into town. Everything except for the thought of having to live with my failure to climb this peak. This peak that a couple of inexperienced want-to-be mountaineers had climbed before me and posted a trip report about. This peak that paled in comparison to to likes of its ice capped neighbors. In that moment, I resented the weather for not being fierce enough to demand retreat. In my decision making, that unbearable thought outweighed the reality that I was alone, high on a mountain where no one knew I was, facing a menacing wall of slippery and insecure rock, above an abyss, where a fall would spell certain doom.
Once again, I told my self that since I was already here, I had to at least go over to have a look.
With a stirring of black emotions deep in the depths of my psyche, I began the traverse across the exposed slabs leading up and east. Eventually I reached a corner that appeared from the bottom to be fairly easy, albeit dangerous, climbing.
And so, upward I went.