American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Canadian-New Zealand Andean Expedition

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

Canadian-New Zealand Andean Expedition. Lisle Irwin of Calgary, Ken Baker of Banff, Gerald Holdsworth of Christchurch, New Zealand and John Ricker of Nanaimo, B.C. climbed in the Cordillera Blanca in July and part of August. On July 18 the north peak of Huascarán (21,834 feet) was climbed by Irwin, Holdsworth and myself from a high camp at 19,500 feet, after a previous attempt had been thwarted by a storm. The ascent was tiring because of fresh snow, an ice cliff and an open bergschrund, all on the normal approach below the Garganta. No attempt was made on the south peak due to Baker’s severe altitude sickness. In late July we entered the Quebrada Cohup, leaving a depot near the breached morainal dam of Palcacocha and establishing a high camp at 16,500 feet below the west ridge of Palcaraju. On July 28 we climbed Palcaraju Sur (c. 20,050 feet), traversing the avalanche-prone snow and ice shelves of the south face from the west ridge to the col on the southeast ridge between the main and south peaks. This was done while looking for a route to the main peak. On July 29 we climbed Ishinca (18,143 feet) by its northeast ridge after high winds drove us off the south face of Palcaraju early in the morning. After several more days of route-finding and alternating poor weather, Palcaraju (20,584 feet) was climbed on August 3. We reascended the shelves of the south face, gaining the col between the west and east peaks. We crossed the col to ascend snow flutings on the north face, regaining the west ridge about 1000 feet from the summit. We proceeded slowly along the steep, corniced ridge to the top. Since it was five P.M., rather than to bivouac on our own route, we descended the northeast ridge in deep snow to a col between the north and east peaks. At dusk we roped down onto a platform on the north face, traversed to the west ridge col, where we retraced our route in darkness and with the aid of two head lamps reached camp. The party then returned briefly to Huaraz, where I remained nine days with a throat infection. On August 17 Holdsworth and Baker climbed Pucaranra (20,168 feet) via the southwest ridge and south face. Huge mushroom cornices forced them onto the flutings of the northwest side. After a frigid night in a snow cave at 17,125 feet where the ridge joins the south face, they floundered in deep snow and breakable crust for the remaining 3000 feet. Irwin and I ascended Atunmontepuncu (17,806 feet) on August 24, using snow-plastered rocks of the west ridge; on the 25th Baker and Holdsworth climbed it by way of the southwest snow slopes. Our only regret was the poor weather, which forced us to return early to Huaraz. By mid-August snowstorms were occurring almost daily.

John Ricker, New Zealand Alpine Club

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