American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Chacraraju Este, Cordillera Blanca

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

Chacraraju Este, Cordillera Blanca. The eastern summit of Chacraraju (19,685 feet) remained the last unclimbed 6000-meter summit in the range until 1962 because of its forbidding difficulty. It had attracted the attention of the French since their ascent on July 31, 1956 of the western summit, which is connected to Chacraraju Este by a fantastically sharp ridge, ¾ of a mile long. A strong French expedition led by Claude Maillard reached the summit of Chacraraju Este this year only 16 days after it had arrived at Base Camp. This was established on July 20 high in the Llanganuco Valley at 15,250 feet. The climbers rejected the idea of the route directly above Base up the snowy 60° south face. Instead they angled around its foot towards the east face. Camp I was placed on July 21 beyond a col at the bottom of the southeast ridge at 16,500 feet. On July 23, Guido Magnone, Lionel Terray, Louis Dubost and Paul Gendre pioneered the route to 18,000 feet past séracs on steep ice and snow, fixing 1500 feet of rope, bypassing an icefall on the left and traversing first the width of the face to the right below a bergschrund and then back left to mid-face above it. During the next four days, the climbers fixed rope on each successive difficulty in the next 500 feet; these included a rock island that barred the route and then a long, precipitous ice traverse to the right, which finally led across the whole face to a ledge at the edge of the southeast ridge at 18,500 feet. This was the site of Camp II, established on July 27. Although the climbing was very hard, the porters Fortunato and Felipe Mautino, Donato Solano, Mariano Camones, Antonio Vargas and Mauricio Jara amply supplied this camp along the protected route.

From there on, the French had to carry all their own supplies. They bypassed a step in the ridge by climbing couloirs in the north face, where Magnone led some extremely difficult direct-aid rock. The route continued along the ice towers of the ridge itself, up 80° water runnels and airy traverses. After three days of hard work they managed to find a rickety ice cave for Camp III at 19,200 feet, floored by the summit of an ice tower and roofed by ice from a higher tower. On August 4 Terray, Magnone, Dubost and Gendre, now joined by Jacques Soubis, continued up the two rope-lengths prepared the day before by Robert Sandoz and Jean Puiseux, which ascended ice flutes, and climbed up difficult rock and ice to within 350 feet of the summit. On August 5 they returned to their previous high point in two hours. Terray led diagonally upward to the left, forced from a more direct line by overhangs. Several hundred feet further and perhaps 100 feet higher, they found themselves on the powder-snow covered south slope of the summit block. There Terray was forced back to the right and across a 70° fluted slope before he gained easier terrain. They reached the summit at four P.M. The descent to Camp III lasted two hours past sundown. The next day Terray and the photographer Jean-Jacques Languepin repeated the climb. On August 7 Louis Gevril, André Parat, Puiseux and Sandoz also climbed to the summit.

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