mountaineering |  Alpamayo: a great achievement in Peru

mountaineering | Alpamayo: a great achievement in Peru

Quebec mountaineer François-Guy Thivierge began the challenge of a lifetime in August 2019: climbing 55 mountains in 55 months to celebrate his 55th birthday. Le Journal regularly features a mountain he climbed as part of this project.

François-Guy Thivierge had not taken on such a long challenge in a good ten years. For eight days, the mountaineer braved the famous summit of Alpamayo in Peru from his height of 5947 m. He emerges from this experience, which is certainly one of the most robust mainstays of his great project of climbing 55 mountains in 55 months.

• Also read: A second friend lost on K2 for climber François-Guy Thivierge

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“For me, the 55 challenge was the hardest. The eight-day program made me think of mountains like Argentina’s Aconcagua and Alaska’s Mount Denali. It takes several days of trekking at altitude, setting up camps, transporting food and a whole organization,” says the Quebec mountaineer.

Alpamayo is not only recognized as one of the loftiest peaks in the Cordillera Blanca of the Peruvian Andes, but across the world.

The large frozen gullies of the Alpamayo, with its summit at 5947 m, offer an impressive spectacle.

With kind approval

The large frozen gullies of the Alpamayo, with its summit at 5947 m, offer an impressive spectacle.

As early as 1966, the Alpinism magazine defined the Alpamayo as “the most beautiful mountain in the world”.

When he made his 55 list in 2019, Thivierge, looking for challenges that were as high as they were safe, knew this Peruvian gem was waiting for him.

“It was missing from my collection, like someone who collects hockey cards but doesn’t have a Guy Lafleur card,” recalls the eternal adventurer in one of his colorful analogies.

A tough approach

Thanks to well-established teamwork, Thivierge and his partner Alfred Boivin reached the summit of Alpamayo on July 21st.

With kind approval

Thanks to well-established teamwork, Thivierge and his partner Alfred Boivin reached the summit of Alpamayo on July 21st.

For this climb, Thivierge chose to join forces with those of Alfred Boivin, who was new to altitude.

The tandem had to walk 28 km in two days at an altitude of 2900 m to reach the pass and finally see the object of desire.

“You can’t see it from the road because it’s in a mountain range. When you see the alpamayo, both your arms fall off,” Thivierge is still salivating.

After joining the base camp, you had to reach camp 1 at an altitude of 4900m, then the second, 500m higher.

“Camp 1 is higher than Mont Blanc. You are already feeling the altitude sickness. My friend lost his appetite for three days. He had to draw on his resources. With crampons, ice axes and backpacks we continued to climb a glacier. »

“The other camp was at 5400m, the same altitude as Everest Base Camp. We got there after four days. Around noon we arrived to see the perfect pyramid, the goddess. Its south face consists of lava flows, like a great white wedding veil,” says the mountaineer, entrepreneur and lecturer.

The adventurer found himself at 5850 m in the summit as the first in line, surrounded by cornices and spectacular ice mushrooms.

With kind approval

The adventurer found himself at 5850 m in the summit as the first in line, surrounded by cornices and spectacular ice mushrooms.

The duo continued up this corridor with wind-altered cornices at a vertical incline of 60 to 70 degrees.

“That’s four times the height of Montmorency Falls at high altitude. It has been a dream for me since my friend Yves Laforest [qui avait été le premier Québécois à gravir l’Everest en 1991] climbed this mountain in 1988,” he says.

A good fright

Long before reaching the summit, Thivierge got a real shock when the cold played a nasty trick on him.

“I froze my feet off like never before. I tried to move my toes in my boots for four hours but nothing happened. I told my friend that I had to stop everything or take off my boots to put my feet on his stomach, under his coat. We did that and it defrosted after 5 to 10 minutes. The smile returned to my face. The hope of seeing the summit came back to me,” he says.

Finally the top!

After traversing a final narrow corridor like a closet, the summit offered itself like a salvation.

Each climb is dedicated to a Thivierge business partner, and this time it was Quebec maple sap producer Maple 3 who helped the climber.

With kind approval

Each climb is dedicated to a Thivierge business partner, and this time it was Quebec maple sap producer Maple 3 who helped the climber.

“I arrived at the top with tears in my eyes. The sun warmed my face and the view of the turquoise lakes was spectacular. We are talking about 360 degrees of beauty. I’ve surpassed myself, it’s one of the achievements of my career,” he says.

Then the long descent remained for four more days to complete the grueling journey. In the heart of South America, François-Guy Thivierge found his Quebec fiber tolerable.

“This mountain is one of the tallest icefalls in the world. I’m an ice climber and that’s why the Alpamayo in the gut was looking for me. »

Alpamayo

Height : 5947m

Country : Peru

Region : Cordillera Blanca in the Andes

First ascent: 1447m

Duration : 8 days

To follow his adventures: francoisguythivierge.com | Facebook | instagram @francoisguythivierge