Mountaineering | Alpamayo: a great achievement in Peru

Quebec mountaineer François-Guy Thivierge began the challenge of his life in August 2019: to climb 55 mountains in 55 months to celebrate his 55th birthday.

Mountaineering | Alpamayo: a great achievement in Peru

Quebec mountaineer François-Guy Thivierge began the challenge of his life in August 2019: to climb 55 mountains in 55 months to celebrate his 55th birthday. On a regular basis, Le Journal presents a mountain he has climbed as part of this project.

For a good ten years, François-Guy Thivierge had not tackled such a long challenge. For eight days, the mountaineer braved the famous peak of Alpamayo, in Peru, from its height of 5947 m. He emerges from this experience which is certainly one of the most robust main courses of his great project to climb 55 mountains in 55 months.

• Read also: A second friend lost at K2 for mountaineer François-Guy Thivierge

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“For me, in the 55 challenge, it was in my toughest. The eight-day program made me think of mountains like Aconcagua in Argentina and Mount Denali in Alaska. It takes several days of walking at altitude, setting up camps, transporting food and a whole organization, ”says the mountain dweller from Quebec.

Alpamayo is recognized not only as one of the most sublime peaks in the Cordillera Blanca of the Peruvian Andes, but also throughout the world.

As early as 1966, the magazine Alpinismus defined the Alpamayo as "the most beautiful mountain in the world".

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

"It was missing from my collection, like someone who collects hockey cards, but does not have a Guy Lafleur card", evokes the eternal adventurer, in one of his colorful analogies.

A tough approach

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

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

"You can't see it from the road because it's in a mountain range. When you see the Alpamayo, both arms fall off you,” Thivierge is still salivating.

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

“Camp 1 is higher than Mont Blanc. You're already starting to feel altitude sickness. My friend lost his appetite for three days. He had to draw on his resources. We continued to climb a glacier with crampons, ice axes and backpacks. »

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

The duo continued to climb this corridor with cornices transformed by the wind, in a vertical slope of 60 to 70 degrees.

“It is the equivalent of four times the height of Montmorency Falls, at high altitude. For me, it was a dream since my friend Yves Laforest [who had been the first Quebecer to climb Everest in 1991] had climbed this mountain in 1988, ”he says.

A good scare

Long before reaching the summit, Thivierge had a good scare when the cold played a nasty trick on him.

“I froze my feet like never before. I tried for four hours to move my toes in my boots and nothing happened. I told my friend that I had to stop everything or take off my boots to place my feet on his stomach, under his coat. That's what we did and it thawed 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 going through a last narrow corridor like a closet, the summit offered itself to him like a deliverance.

“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 surpassed myself, it's one of the achievements of my career, "he says.

Then there was the long descent over four more days to complete the grueling journey. In the middle of South America, it is a bit of his Quebec fiber that François-Guy Thivierge has found.

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

Altitude : 5947 m

Country: Peru

Region: Cordillera Blanca, in the Andes

First ascent: 1447m

Duration: 8 days

►To follow his adventures: francoisguythivierge.com | Facebook | Instagram @francoisguythivierge

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