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South America, Colombia, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. In January 1957, at the same time that the English expedition under A. E. Cunningham was in the western end of this range (See AAJ 1957, pp. 161-163), our group, made up of Piero Ghiglione and Silvio Morra, Italians, and Evelio Echevarría, Chilean, and the local porter, Jesús Zapata, of San Sebastián, penetrated into the region from the south along the route used by the Cabot party in 1939. We established Base Camp at 14,200 feet, southwest of El Guardián. From there we ascended on January 6, 1957 to the summit ridge of Pico Tairona (about 16,000 feet), but a gendarme in the rocky knife edge prevented our reaching the top, which remained about 100 feet above us. On January 8 I made the first ascent alone of an easy 15,000-foot rock peak west of the Sevo Simeina valley and south of Tairona. In the middle of January we moved our camp to a high cirque at 16,000 feet on the southern slopes of Pico Colón, the highest of the Colombian Andes. (Pico Bolívar is given the identical altitude. —Editor) While Morra and I were packing loads, which included heavy movie equipment, Ghiglione made the third recognized ascent of Pico Colón (18,947 feet) by the Bakewell-Wood route of 1939. Lack of time forced my return to San Sebastián. With the native porter, Jesús Zapata, an exceptionally strong climber, Ghiglione made ascents of E1 Guardián (17,338 feet) from the southeast on January 15 and Pico Ojeda (18,012 feet) on January 20 by the south ridge. Neither was a first ascent.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta still presents a wide field for action. The Cunningham party showed that the best route of approach is doubtless offered by the Donachuí valley with Valledupar as the point of departure. The Donachuí valley divides into two upper valleys, the Donachuí itself and the Guatapuri. On the northern side of the latter rise various peaks that range from 17,000 to 17,600 feet, all unclimbed. There are also other virgin peaks of the same height to the west of Pico Colón, in the extreme western end of the group, which do not appear on maps and have been located only by airplane.

Evelio Echevarria C., Federación de Andinismo de Chile