American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Edinburgh Andian Expedition, Cordillera Central and Cordillera Blanca

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1959

Edinburgh Andean Expedition, Cordillera Central and Cordillera Blanca. The Scots, Dr. Hugh Simpson (leader), William Wallace, and Miss Myrtle L. Emslie, were joined by Dr. Derek Fabian and the Frenchmen, Henri Chanzy and Yves Merle d’Aubigné, on some of their climbs. After a week of physiological research in the Cochas range of the Cordillera Central, not far from Cerro de Pasco, Wallace and Miss Emslie climbed Tunshu (18,724 feet). From a high camp they climbed on July 20 the northeast ridge, first mixed rock and snow and then snow to the summit. Two days later this pair, joined by Dr. Simpson, made the first ascent of Tatajaico (18,058 feet) through deep snow on the south face. Descent was by the west ridge. The following day the twomen climbed Tembladera (18,307 feet) from camp at the base of Tatajaico, a third first ascent for the group.

Joined by the Frenchmen, the expedition moved its field of activity to the Cordillera Blanca. They ascended the Quebrada Rurec from Olleros to camp at 16,000 feet. After preparing a route 1000 feet up an ice gully on August 4, all of them climbed on August 6 up the ice gully to a rock ridge on Huantsán Chico (18,711 feet). Higher they were forced to traverse across the face to a snow arête. When a cornice blocked them from the hitherto unclimbed summit, they chopped their way through and stepped onto the top. They bivouacked on the descent. On August 8 the same climbers except for Dr. Simpson made the first ascent of Rurec East (17,454 feet) directly from base camp. After ascending the glacier, they found good rock-climbing to the summit. They returned to the glacier by a scree gully. The Frenchmen departed and the group was joined by Dr. Fabian. From the Quebrada Cayesh they carried a camp to 17,000 feet on the north side of San Juan (19,170 feet), after climbing a rock ridge and a steep slope covered with ice pinnacles. They continued on August 14 along the snow ridge to where it merged into a steep shoulder. Above the shoulder they followed the northwest ridge, although cornices often forced them out onto the northern flank. Just below the summit a gully caused a deep gash in the ridge. They had to descend twenty feet on rotten ice, traverse on an exposed ledge and climb very deep ice to the summit. This was a new route and a second ascent. Clinch and Tidrick made the first ascent in 1957. (A.A.J., 1958, 11:1, pp. 111–112.) The same climbers made the second ascent of Chinchey (20,413 feet) by an apparently new route, the west ridge. (First ascent was made by Austrians Brecht and Schweizer in 1939.) After ascending to the head of the Quebrada Tulparaju, they placed a camp at 18,000 feet near the col at the foot of the west ridge. The next day, August 17, they climbed the steep west ridge. In the upper parts they were frequently forced off onto the northwest face. Finally a traverse across the face allowed them to reach the side of the summit cornice. Again a gap, 100 feet deep and 15 feet wide, nearly blocked them, but they crossed a flimsy snow-bridge to the summit.

Simpson, Wallace, and Miss Emslie repeated the route up the south face and ridge of Huascarán (22,205 feet), pioneered a month before them by the Americans (Ortenburger, in this issue, pp. 179–180). From the Quebrada Ulta they climbed to camp at 16,400 feet on the American tent-platform. The second night was spent at 19,000 feet. From there, on August 28, they climbed up steep snow and then followed the tracks of the Americans up a spiral traverse of a snow dome at the southern end of the main ridge. They reached its crest at 21,000 feet at 9:30 A.M. and continued along the corniced ridge to the summit, which they reached at 12:30.

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