BD athlete Ptor Spricenieks reports on ski expedition to Peru with Sweetgrass Productions
Black Diamond athlete Ptor Spricenieks recently traveled to Peru to ski some fantastic-looking high-mountain lines and film with Sweetgrass Productions. Below is his report from the trip and some photos of the stunning peaks and terrain.
[Koky Castaneda on approach to high camp]
This June I had the great fortune of spending the month in Peru. Not only was it my first time in Peru since 2001, but it was also a return to expedition mode for me after a number of years. This “dream trip” was instigated by Zac Ramras and Nick Waggoner of Sweetgrass Productions after they contacted me to be a part of their new film, Solitaire. They were ensconced by my bold idea of exploring some theoretical lines in the Cordillra Huayhuash and, with the support of Black Diamond, off we went.
I had been to the Huayhuash on two separate trips back in 1999 and had seen some incredible possibilities on the eastern side of the range. Views of these fantasy lines are not easy to come by nor is accessing the zones in which they lie. Nevertheless, the Sweetgrass boys were game to take a chance and go exploring. It would fit in perfectly with the motif they had in mind for their latest production. My old friend and Peruvian mountain guide, Koky Castaneda, who would join our team, had reported a good snow year and so our hopes were high.
[The mighty southeast face of Yerupaja]
Organizing out of Huaraz and La Casa de Zarella, our team of six hit the long road to basecamp, acclimatized and psyched. Also joining the team as our 3rd camera and photographer was my friend and ski partner from Squamish, B.C., Trevor Hunt. The crew was completed by our fabulous cook, Juan, whose constant smile was a valuable asset. After a full day’s drive and another day’s approach hike with 15 donkeys support, we were ready for two weeks at our 4200m home at the far end of Lago Carhuacocha.
[East face of Sarapo]
Above us rose our intimidating objectives of Siula Grande and Yerupaja surrounded by their impassable-looking glaciers that caved off into blue lakes all day long. The theoretical ski lines were not visible from basecamp, so on an acclimatization day we climbed the low mountain across the valley to get a view. This was also necessary in order to figure out how to gain the upper reaches of the glaciers and subsequently where to make high camps. Adding in filming logistics, we faced a rather challenging overall scenario.
[The insane Sarapo Glacier]
I can easily say that these were the most intense glaciers I have ever skied on. Both the Yerupaja Glacier and the Sarapo Glaciers that we gained to access the higher regions had only one single possible way to get up and down. In the end we were the first people to ski in these zones, took advantage of the minimal weather windows to meet our filming objectives, and all returned back to Huaraz healthy, safe, and ultra-stoked to have been in such a magnificent place. As for the skiing itself, you'll just have to watch Solitaire when it comes out in September!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot... summers almost over!!!