American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Attempts on the Nevado Rurec and Uruashraju, Cordillera Blanca

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1958

Attempts on the Nevado Rurec and Uruashraju, Cordillera Blanca. At Huaraz, our group, consisting of Jac Lasner, Fred Martin, and Bill Dixon, from California, and John Dixon, from Wisconsin, were joined by two native porters, Macario Angeles and Augusto Jamanca. These two men, experienced on snow and ice, have spent five seasons working for climbing parties. We owe a great deal to our porters, to President José Patiño Camones, and to César Morales Arnao, of the Club Andinista Cordillera Blanca, and to our interpreter, Juan Ramírez, who all did much to help. From August 3 to August 23 we occupied Base Camp in a 14,000-foot meadow on a moraine shelf overlooking the lake at the head of the Quebrada Rurec. As the maps show two valleys of this name, it is necessary to specify that we were in the Quebrada Rurec whose source is on the western side of the crest of the Cordillera Blanca, about three miles south of the Nevado Huantsán. This valley is ringed by four peaks of altitudes of 18,700 to 18,800 feet. To the west is Huantsán Chico; to the northwest lies Cashan; to the northeast is the Nevado Rurec, projecting from the south ridge of Huantsán; to the southeast is Uruashraju. Cashan was climbed by the Swiss in 1948, but the three others are unclimbed.

From Base Camp, August 5, Lasner and I climbed a rock spur (16,800 feet) on the ridge running southeast from Cashan. From a camp at 16,300 feet, south of the Nevado Rurec (18,700 feet), we attained the south ridge of that peak by its west slope, but the difficulty of the upper portions of this ridge discouraged further attempts. From this camp we climbed on August 10 a 17,500-foot snow peak on the main divide one mile north of Uruashraju. The second attempt on the Nevado Rurec was made from a camp at 16,100 feet on the glacier west of the peak. The route lay on a sloping, glacier-covered ramp, some 100 to 300 yards wide, which climbs past the right (south) side of a very prominent rock-snow pyramid ½ mile northwest of the Nevado Rurec. The ramp, at its upper end, leads gradually into the almost level northwest ridge leading to the summit. We had ascended its steepest portion, when, at a constricted part at 17,200 feet, our path was blocked by a ten-foot crevasse running the entire width of the glacier. The upper part of this route appeared quite feasible, and perhaps earlier in the season, when there might be more snow bridges, a party would meet with success. We also feel that an approach to the Nevado Rurec from the north-northwest via the Quebrada Rajucolta might encounter fewer difficulties than by our route.

My brother John and I attempted Uruashraju (18,815 feet) on August 18, leaving from a "minimum” camp at 15,500 feet on a talus slope south of the lake. The route lay chiefly on talus and rock ledges, with no rope required until we emerged on the snow-and ice-covered west ridge at about 17,500 feet. There was a little ice climbing as we started up this easy ridge. For the last 200 feet we cut steps up steep hard ice. We thus attained the southwest summit ridge, but turning to the left toward the summit, were dismayed to encounter very soft snow at 18,700 feet. Though only 100 feet below the summit and 100 to 200 yards away, we found very steep cornices, made very treacherous by the soft snow. It was now 3 P.M. and we had only three more hours of daylight. A storm was coming in quickly from the southeast. It all added up to retreat and, thankful for the steps we had cut, we descended quickly but safely in the storm. We doubtless had used the right route, but we should have camped at perhaps 17,000 feet. On August 20 I climbed a 16,700-foot rock peak 1½ miles east of Cashan, and Martin and Macario Angeles a 17,400-foot peak with an ice summit on the Cashan-Rurec ridge about a mile east of Cashan.


This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.