American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Huantsán Norte, Loyacjirca and Quitaraju, Cordillera Blanca

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

Huantsán Norte, Loyacjirca, and Quitaraju, Cordillera Blanca. On July 5 three Oregonians, Dave Jensen, Dean Caldwell and I started to climb Nevado Huantsán (20,981 feet) from a base camp at the head of the Quebrada Shallap. Our porterless party spent several days moving up a long glacier to the base of the northwest ridge of Huantsán. We had to cut steps all the way up its steep, corniced crest to gain the summit ridge. Here we encountered two vertical walls of snow caused by the movement of giant cornice blocks. The delay which these unexpected difficulties created, together with a food shortage brought on in part by the inadvertent dropping of one full day’s rations into space, forced us to abandon hope of climbing the south summit. However, on July 17, we did reach the 20,065-foot north summit, some 900 feet lower. We returned to Huaraz and made preparations for an attempt on Nevado Alpamayo. In this venture we were joined by Paul Dix, a North American who had been living in Chile. At the end of our three-day pack from Carás to Base Camp at the head of the Quebrada Alpamayo, we discovered that most of our gasoline had leaked out of its plastic containers. We made arrangements with a local boy for delivery of a new supply at Base Camp in a week’s time. In the meanwhile, we reconnoitered a route through Alpa- mayo’s formidable icefall and climbed the neighboring peaks of Nevado Loyacjirca (18,373 feet) and Nevado Quitaraju (19,850 feet) on two successive days, August 4 and 5. But alas, the boy never reappeared with our gasoline! We were forced to go ourselves to the town of Carás to fetch it. When we returned, the weather was already turning bad, and as each day passed, it deteriorated a little more. We established a camp at the foot of Alpamayo’s north ridge and cut steps to within a few hundred feet of the summit ridge. However, continued snow storms denied us the chance of a quick summit dash — our only hope of success in the short time that our schedule allowed us. Once again — on August 20 — we retreated without achieving our objective.

Robert Peirce, Mazamas

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