The weather and snow conditions have changed a fair bit in the last couple of weeks.
Snow: With plenty of fine days and nights getting colder the mornings down low see a fairly well frozen snow pack, unless you are on a southerly slope close under a face in which case the snow will probably be unconsolidated. The snow is softening considerably by midday. Up higher things are a bit more complex with a mixture of crust, firm windblown snow and deep unconsolidated and unsupportive stuff. Some small loose snow avalanche activity (<size 1) has been noted on high (approx. 6000m) steep east aspects later in the day.
Weather: There are an increasing number of fine days on offer with most other days being mostly fine with afternoon cloud arriving by mid day but without the electrical storms of a couple weeks ago. Winds have been mostly westerly.
Overall as I said last week: conditions should continue to improve and there are plenty of climbing possibilities but be aware of fairly quick changes in weather – best to be up and off high peaks early, particularly if your route is on the east side of a mountain or has an east aspect – and also take care on higher slopes. Be prepared to analyse the snow pack and change objectives if needed.
Recent activity in the hills: An international team of ski mountaineers has had some success in the Cordillera Real recently. Notably they skied the Cabeza de Condor via the west side, a probable first. Hannu (FIN), Petter (NOR), Hugo (UK) and Juan (ESP) climbed the direct SE face which they found to have shallow loose snow over rock and skied the other side which was icy but doable. A good effort and hopefully we’ll hear of more steep descents this month.
A local team did a good circumnavigation of Charquini on snowboards, ascending the NW glacier, descending the NE, ascending the SE glacier and finally descending the NW in about 6 hours.
A bit of rock climbing action has happened on the south peak of Pico Milluni with a possible new 3 pith route put up.
Alex von Ungern on Pico Milluni
Sal Beisly on Charquini NE side
Climbers high on Huayna Potosi 2 days ago
Climber near Huayna Potosi summit with the Cordillera Real behind