American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Nevados Santa Martha, and "SAM," Cordillera Huayhuash

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

Nevados Santa Martha and "SAM,” Cordillera Huayhuash. On June 22 we left Lima for the town of Chiquián, where we wasted two days before finding pack animals. It took all of the day of June 25 to get to the town of Llamac, another day to reach the place the natives call Matakancha, and a third and most fatiguing day to cross the 13,000-foot Kakanapunta Pass to set up Base Camp on Lake Mitukocha. After a rest day Ernesto Mendoza, Leoncio Montero and Rubén García Tovar on one rope and Jesus Magana, Rafael Saraiba and I on the other set out for Jirishanca Norte. We started up the left side for the first half day on rock in order to reach the glacier. At nearly dusk, we set up camp for three, while the other three returned to Base. The glacier was a tiring proposition since it was formed of walls of ice where we had to use ice pitons and mark our route with colored flags. The next day, while we of the support trio climbed back up over the rocks on fixed rope, the lead rope worked upwards on snow. After dropping our loads at the camp, we went on to join our companions. At the base of the wall which rises up to the arête leading to the summit, we were stopped by a big schrund. It was obvious that the route would take too much time and sadly we turned back, evacuating the high camp the next day. Still wishing to climb a virgin peak, we recrossed the pass and headed to the end of the Quebrada Pinikupio, where on July 5 we attacked a nameless peak lying north of Ninashanca and Chiligirca, the latter climbed by the Chileans. To be sure of getting to the top, García, Mendoza and Saraiba attacked from the north and we other three from the south. It was mostly rock-climbing. The first group traversed to reach a little glacier, which they climbed, arriving late in the afternoon at the top of a peak they called "SAM” in honor of the Socorro Alpino de México (Mexican Mountain Rescue Group). They continued on to the slightly higher summit, the Nevado Santa Martha, which they reached at five p.m. Both peaks were about 5500 meters (18,045 feet)*. Our rope climbed the rocks to the top of a ridge, but a rock wall prevented further progress. Both camps had to bivouac in the very cold night. The next morning we rappelled off the ridge and got back to camp at four p.m.

Carlos Castillo Ramos, Socorro Alpino de México

*Chileans who visited the region felt that Chiligirca, to which they gave an altitude of 16,240 feet, was not much lower than Santa Martha — Editor.

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