American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Jirishhanca and Yerupajá Chico, Cordillera Huayhuash, and Ascents in the Cordillera Raura

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1958

Jirishhanca and Yerupajá Chico, Cordillera Huayhuash, and Ascents in the Cordillera Raura. The expedition of the Österreichischer Alpenverein accomplished two of the most difficult ascents yet made in the Andes. The Austrian group was led by Dr. Heinrich Klier and consisted of Siegfried Jungmair, Erich Krenmayr, Herbert Raditschnig, and Toni Egger. On the approach march the latter two made the first ascent of Kichas, one of the Nevados de Quichas (16,750 feet). From Base Camp on the Carhuakocha (lake), June 8, 1957, Krenmayr and Jungmair made the first ascent of the Nevado Alcay (17,323 feet) from the Cerro Alcay (17,192 feet), which Egger and Raditschnig had already climbed by its slabby east face. On June 9 all the climbers made the second ascent of Jirishhanca Chico (17,936 feet), climbed in 1954 by Mariner and Aeberli. The next day they turned their attention to Jirishhanca itself (20,100 feet), which they had previously reconnoitered. The northern glacier was not passable, but they ascended a rocky ridge along side it to an upper snowfield. Porters assisted them only to Camp II at the foot of the eastern cliffs of Jirishhanca. From there the Climbers were on their own and state that they found the difficulties greater than any they had ever encountered anywhere. They climbed perpendicular limestone to a huge overhanging cap of ice, through which they had to tunnel to reach the top of the first bastion. Thence they climbed three large patches of hanging ice to the base of a second bastion, which was much more difficult than the first. Notwithstanding bad weather, they had forced a route to the top of this second by June 29, but withdrew without attempting the powder-snow covered, corniced, 70° summit ridge, planning to return later when conditions might be more favorable.

Yerupajá Chico, or El Toro, as they called it (20,082 feet), was attacked by its northeast bastion and east ridge. Camp I was at the foot of the east face. It took them three days to work out a route up a 1650-foot limestone ridge, continually swept by rockfall, which led them to a hanging glacier at 18,400 feet. After a day’s rest at Base Camp, Egger and Jungmair returned on June 4 to Camp I to find that Indians had stolen most of their food. They retraced their steps, nevertheless, to the hanging glacier camp. The next day they climbed the difficult rock and ice all day, barely escaping death when an ice avalanche swept close by them. They bivouacked at 19,350 feet in a small pulpit at the foot of the summit ridge. They followed the difficult ice ridge to the summit, which they reached at 10:30 A.M. July 7. Rather than retrace their steps, they rappelled down the south face and reached Base Camp on Carhua Lake at 7 P.M.

Meanwhile Krenmayr and Raditschnig failed at 18,700 feet on the Nevado Carnicero (19,620 feet) for lack of equipment.

All returned to Jirishhanca on July 10 and climbed to Camp II. The next day Egger and Jungmair climbed with 50-pound packs. The ice tunnel below the summit of the first bastion had to be recut. That afternoon, leaving their bivouac equipment, they prepared the third ice patch and fixed more ropes on the second bastion. On the morning of the 12th they reached their previous highest point at the top of the second bastion at 8 A.M. after only an hour of climbing. From there they had only six 160-leads to the summit, but the ridge was incredibly difficult. They could not climb the ridge top but traversed under the cornices on the north face. They reached the top only by midafternoon in stormy weather. Their descent was entirely en rappel, but involved a bivouac at 19,000 feet in a snowstorm. They continued to rappel on 350-foot ropes to Camp II the next day. On July 15 Krenmayr and Raditschnig climbed Trapecito (18,500 feet).

The expedition, minus Klier, transferred its activities to the Cordillera Raura. On July 25 Egger and Krenmayr climbed Condorsenja (18,045 feet), while on the same day Raditschnig and Jungmair made the first ascents of six peaks between 17,000 and 17,400 feet in the Patron-Jaico group. They climbed Santa Rosa (18,500 feet), Cinco Caballeros (18,045 feet), and Yarupa (18,700 feet), before Raditschnig repeated, with the German Degerl Briegleb and the Peruvian Martín Fernández, the ascent of Condorsenja on July 31. The same day Krenmayr and Jungmair made the first ascent of the Torre de Cristal (17,700 feet).

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