2006 Apolobamba Expedition
Climbing Nevado Posnansky
The previous recon hike gave us the route information we would need to take a shot at Nevado Posnansky. We set the alarm for 4:30 and rolled out of the tents at a bit after five. Just getting out of the sleeping was a major task as it had been yet another very cold night. Breakfast was light, rolls and hot tea but more important was just the opportunity to sit in the warm cook tent for a few minutes after yet another freezing night on the permafrost. G took the initiative and left camp a few minutes before I did, starting a long slow hike off in the direction of the big boulder that more or less marked a good spot to turn and head uphill. I followed and caught up with him as we both broke the crest of the first moraine terrace, perhaps one half mile from camp.
We didn't have to use the boulder as a turning point as the sun was starting to lighten the eastern sky and we ambled along, taking a gently climbing route that led us across frozen moss pillows and a few running rivulets that had not frozen the night before. The water coming from the glacier far above resurged through the moraine fairly low on the slope and we stopped there to shoot a Goo, drink some water and drop the water filter for pick up on the way back down.
From this point, all we had to do was strike upward for the snow line, but getting there had the promise of being a real death march. We knew from our recon hike that the scree would either be loose enough to cause a day's consternation or alternatively, tight enough to support a footstep. We lucked out and found the later, but the slow slog up the wide couloir was not particularly spellbinding. Climb and climb on was the name of the game and after about an hour we arrived at the top of the scree and intercepted an intermediate snow field. The talus was now loose so we crossed the snowfield to gain some relief before we had to return to the scree and talus for the final couple hundred yards.
The packs came off at the edge of the snow slope and we gathered the glacier travel gear in preparation for moving onto the ice. The slope turned out to be angled at about 45 degrees and was badly sun cupped but there were no penetientes. We roped up, Chode in the lead, and started moving first for the skyline, where we anticipated we would intercept the ridge proper for the rest of the climb. The sun cups were a major pain as the slope was steep to make the climb the equivalent of working out on a set of stadium steps. We encountered a few cracks in the slope but no crevasses to speak of.
The skyline was in fact the ridge we would take toward the top. The sun was doing its best to heat us up and I soon shed the gloves, the hat, and unzipped to whatever cooling was available. The route continued to be straightforward but for a single crevasse that paralleled the ridge and needed to be crossed via a well frozen blue ice bridge. No issues there and about 10 minutes later the slope angle flattened markedly, becoming an angled bowl, across which we walked to surmount the next slope. The next slope was pleasantly short and when I arrive at the crest, I saw nothing but down on the other side. I cut to the south, perhaps 100 feet, and scored the high point of the ridge, the summit of Nevado Posnansky at ~ 17,810 feet.
G joined me at the top for a few photos and the view of Cololo as well as the vast glacier/icefield that filled the entire cirque below us, reaching out to the lonesome Alto Plano far below. The Apolobamba spread out before us to the north and south bounded by the Alto Plano on the west and the jagged canyons that fall to the Amazon to the east. The weather was beautiful but neither of us are summit sitters, especially when the heat is doing a job on the snow slopes so it was time to go.
We reversed our course and made our way across the bowl and down the crest of the ridge to the saddle where we had intersected the ridge after the first leg of our climb. Rather than cut left to the base of the ice, we turned right to tag a small sub peak that was within a few minutes walk. This un-named point gave a wonderful view of the Posnansky summit before we retraced our tracks and dropped off the other side of the saddle for the rocks below and a few minute rest before we descended to camp.
The trip back down the couloir was quick and we noticed tracks the now paralleled our course up the slope. We found later that we had caught the attention of a couple of shepherds who must have been curious as to just what we were up to. We returned to the water pump and after refilling a liter bottle each, we ambled back over the last mile of terrace and moss to the camp.
Mario and Alcides had been keeping track of our progress and noted that yes, we did get to the top of Posnansky. Mario soon had dinner ready and Alcides had the answer to his question in hand . . . yes, tomorrow was a travel day, we would move on to another climbing venue.