American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Franco-Swiss Peruvian Andean Expedition

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Franco-Swiss Peruvian Andean Expedition. The Franco-Swiss Peruvian Andean Expedition, composed of Dr. Roger Bretton (Annemasse, Haute Savoie), Robert Gréloz (Annemasse and Geneva) and René Dittert (Geneva) was joined in Peru by Félix Marx, a Swiss climbing friend living in Puno. A week after our departure from Geneva, we were able, on July 1, to establish our first camp at 13,650 feet in the place called "Ancas,” having left from Calca on the Rio Vilcanota, north of Cuzco. After reconnaissance principally beyond the Lares col, our group, on July 5, made the first ascent of the Cerro Sunchubamba (16,768 feet) opposite the massif of still unclimbed Saguasiray (ca. 18,700 feet). From this summit we realized that Saguasiray, which was to have been our chief objective, presented too great difficulties for a light expedition that had as little time as we did. We then headed toward a group of the Cordillera Vilcabamba. On July 18 we succeeded in making the second ascent of the Nevado Yucay (18,535 feet). (This was called the "Nevado Miguel Grau” by the Italians from Como whose first ascent in 1958 was reported in the A.A.f., 1959, 11:2, p. 321. This name, like so many others given by Italian expeditions, is not official. There is no logical reason why a personal name should supplant the existing local name as the Italians suggest doing in this case. The Editor also strongly suggests that if a Peruvian peak is not yet named, it should at most be given a Quechua or at least a Spanish name which has some local significance. M. Dittert reports that he has been informed by the subdirector of the Topographical Institute in Lima that the Institute would not accept the type of name given by the Italians as official. May this confusing and tactless practice cease. As for the altitude, it is not known how the Italians determined theirs of 5650 meters, but it is believed that it was by aneroid barometer. The Franco-Swiss party had an aneroid reading of 5450 meters or 17,881 feet.—Editor.) Though our camp was really too far distant, we reached the summit after a long flank march which took us to the San Francisco Glacier and then along a beautiful corniced ridge. We left camp at 14,750 feet at eight a.m., reached the glacier at noon, the col (16,750 feet) at 1:30 p.m., and the summit at four. We were back in camp at 9:30. The Nevado Yucay, as it is called locally, is the highest summit of the Yucay group.

After these two climbs we gained the Cordillera Apolobamba, near the Bolivian frontier, from Puno on Lake Titicaca. A truck carried us to Rinconada, a gold mining community whose inhabitants belong to the ethnic group of Aymaras and live at 16,400 feet. After reconnaissance and leaving a food and supply dump, on July 23 we made the second ascent of the Nevado Ananea (19,200 feet. First ascent by G. Frigieri, R. Merendi, C. Zamboni in 1958. A.A.J., 1959, 11:2, pp. 321-2.—Editor.) After leaving Rinconada at 4:30 A.M., in two hours we descended to the base of the ridge where we had left our supplies at 15,250 feet. The ridge was some 2½ miles long but fortunately without great technical difficulties. We reached the summit at two p.m. We had descended the ridge by five and climbed back to Rinconada by 8:30.

Climatic conditions are generally good in southern Peru during the winter of the Southern Hemisphere (summer in Europe and the U. S. A.); this year, however, it seems that they were exceptionally favorable since the weather was very beautiful for our whole stay. The health of the four members of the expedition, whose ages totaled 210 years, was excellent if you discount some minor dysentery caused by eating doubtful local food.

René Dittert, Swiss Alpine Club

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