|Climbing 2 - Casiri Este|
spent the next four days in base camp, saw a condor for an instant
through a gap in the clouds (3/8/72), sewed a ground sheet into the blue
bivi-tent, and played a lot of bridge. Thus psychologically prepared for
high altitudes, we set off back through the Canyon to the snow plateau,
to have a try at the East Face of Casiri Este (19,510 feet). That evening
slept at the site on the moraines
just before the main ridge, where we had left a dump of food and gear on
the last trip.
morning we slogged up the demoralizing rubble heavy laden. A snow storm
started up, the clouds always seemed to come up from the Amazon basin,
and we were just on the point of turning back when the sun broke
through. Encouraged, we carried on to the main ridge and bivied on the glacier
plateau, next to Monte Triangulo.
reasonable night and we were off again over Mesketanya.
After leaving some food and gear on the col beyond, we dropped
down to the left (East) to a lower glacier with provisions for 1 1/2
days. We traversed under the East face of Casiri Este and set up the
tent on the ice below the ridge, eyeing apprehensively the impossible
looking granite slabs that made up the centre
of the face. The views were, as usual, splendid. The South
face of Monte Triangulo stood out well against the colours of the
sunset on the clouds. We spent a comfortable night.
the morning (9/8/72) we got off at 9.00 am and climbed
snow for about 500 feet before traversing
onto the face. The first pitch up the rock already needed a little help
from pitons and on the second, after using 5 pegs for 50 feet, we
abseiled back down and traversed left for about 100 feet to the South
East ridge. Here the going was easier and we climbed the more
broken rock for 6 pitches, taking turns leading. Rich finished up
the corniced snow to the summit just as night fell, the sun leaving the
Altiplano turned Lake Titicaca into a sheet of molten lead, in a
lifetime one doesn’t spend many evenings in such surroundings!
is hardly the right word as there were none, we were on a triangular
point of snow and rock at 19,500 feet and it was late, so Rich
set off down the steep snow slope on the other (NW) side to a likely
looking bivi site on the South West ridge. I followed in the dark and
managed to slip and fall 15 feet, fortunately held on the rope by Rich.
We managed to hack a platform by levelling off the top of the ice ridge,
and after a somewhat light meal, we had run out of food, slept well
enough on our airy perch.
what is noted in my diary as a “poor breakfast”, we climbed
along the ridge for 2 short pitches then abseiled and scrambled down
to the West. After a steep, unpleasant
climb down ice for 200 feet we reached, and crossed, the
bergschrund. We had been a bit apprehensive about this, as we had read a
report of some British climbers being killed by a fall here into this
very same hole. We looked around but could see no sign of the accident.
At this point we hesitated before deciding to drop down to the glacier
rather than traverse at the same level North to Cramatawa, a secondary
peak on the ridge between Casiri Este and Mesketanya. This proved to be
a mistake, we found our way through the ice-fall
but it involved a tiring, unpleasant traverse for 1/4 mile across 45°
water ice on our front points. Finally, we climbed back up to the ridge
and walked back along to within
100 feet of Cramatawa itself. Then, as time was getting on, we headed
back to the food dump and set up the blue tent for a bivi on the windy col
South of Mesketanya, we were certainly glad of the food we had left
wind kept up all night and although spindrift started getting in at
about 10 pm, we slept well. However, the
awakening was rude, the snow was everywhere and Rich’s boots were
solid lumps of ice. After a quick breakfast with frozen fingers, we put
on all the down clothing we had, I even used my down trousers for the
first time in anger, and stomped off through a good covering of fresh
snow. The going was hard and this time we traversed round Mesketanya
instead of going over the top, up to the col and down the by now
familiar moraines to our established bivi sight amongst the rubble. Here
we treated ourselves to what we considered to be a well-earned 2-hour
lunch - we even indulged ourselves to the point of eating a “spare tin
of curry” according to my scribbled notes - truly the last of the big
was now nearly 3 o’clock and we made our way down across the burnt
grass to the Canyon and the Green Lake. On the way we saw, once again,
some curious, black squirrel-like creatures. They seemed to live in the
rocks like marmots in the Alps, but they were quite different animals.
At the lake we met a larger animal, Steve, and we continued together to
base camp (11/8/72). Everyone was there except Neville and Paul Mac who
turned up after dark, but in time for dinner. That evening we didn’t
get to bed early, the conversation and card playing in the big frame
tent, which was certainly worth its far from negligible weight in gold,
went on into the wee hours of the morning.