American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1956

Cordillera Blanca. A group from the Munich section of the Deutscher Alpenverein climbed in the summer of 1955 in the Cordillera Blanca de Huayhuash, the same region where American Alpine Club members operated a year before. They had a remarkable record with six climbs higher than 19,500 feet, three of them first ascents and nine climbs higher than 16,500 feet, five of these firsts.

From a base camp on Lake Parron at 13,700 feet they established a high camp at 18,200 feet on the Caras Glacier moraine. On June 14 Hermann Huber, Alfred Koch, and Helmut Schmidt climbed the 19,767-foot Nevado Caras de Parron. The icy southern summit slope was 60 degrees, and the peak so sharp that only one climber could stand on the top at a time. The next day Koch and Huber climbed the east ridge of the neighboring Nevado de Caras de Santa Cruz (19,751 feet), but they had to bivouac within a few feet of the summit. They descended the 60-degree south slope. An attempt on Pyramid was prevented by bad weather. Next they attacked the rugged granite spire, the Nevado Agujas (18,208 feet). This climb failed some 850 feet from the summit on the afternoon of June 26 because of climbing difficulties. They turned to the nearby Cerro de Parron, whose 17,464-foot summit they reached at 5:30 P.M. On July 15 Schmidt and Koch made the first ascent of the 20,210-foot South Peak of Huandoy above the Quebrada Yanganuco from a bivouac on the 19,200-foot saddle. Huber, with a Peruvian porter, meanwhile made the ascent of the 20,853- foot West Peak, which had been ascended a year before for the first time by our members Ortenburger, Irvin, and Matthews, and of the 20,981- foot main (North) peak, a third ascent. On July 19 Koch and Huber made the fourth ascent of the Nevado Pisco (18,875 feet), and on August 2 Huber, Schmidt and the Peruvian porter Pedro Méndez, reached the 22,205-foot summit of Huascaran, Peru’s highest peak, just a day before Hoppenon, Walton and Sowles’ ascent.

In August they climbed the 16,400-foot main summit of the Chaccha group in the Cordillera Negra, reconnoitered the northern slopes of Chacraraju, and climbed 16,700-foot Pucaraju, two 16,500-foot peaks of the Pyramid group and across the Rio Morañon, Acrotamba (15,750 feet). In September they reconnoitered the as yet unexplored Cordillera Raura, where they climbed the 10,000-foot north peak of Yarupa and 18,000-foot Pucaroura.

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