American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru—Cordillera Blanca, Uruashraju

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1967

Uruashraju. On June 17 the Italian Carlo Mauri and I made the first ascent of Uruashraju ( 18,815 feet). Besides us two, the expedition included a second Italian, Carlo Aldé, the Peruvian climbers Macario and Emilio Angeles and the porters Octaviano Zúñiga and Glicerio Natividad. Uruashraju stands alone and is easily recognizable to the south of Huantsán from the Conococha-Huaraz road. Just north of the Punta (pass) Yanashallash, it is the first of the "Huaraz snow peaks.” It is tent-shaped with west, north, northeast and southeast ridges. The west and southeast ridges join to form the south buttress, while the north and northeast ridges come together on the summit. From the top of the south buttress to the highest point runs a sharp and beautiful crest, almost horizontal, with enormous cornices over the western slope, which descends for 3500 feet to the Punta Yanashallash. From our observations in 1964, when Macario Angeles and I tried the peak from the Quebrada Pumahuacanca (A.A.J., 1965, 14:2, pp. 442-3) and from those made with Adams Carter in 1965 from the summit of Rurec, from the Punta Yanashallash and from the Quebrada Ichicqueñuash (A.A.J., 1966, 15:1, pp. 59-62), I was sure that the best route was the west ridge from the Quebrada Rurec and on from the south buttress. We left Huaraz on June 8 and went through Olleros, Canrey Chico and Canrey Pampa to arrive in two days at Base Camp at the head of the Quebrada Rurec near the glacial lake at 14,100 feet. On the 12th we established Camp I at 15,400 feet in the rocks below the Nevado Pumahuacanca, where we found innumerable fossils. After exploring the western glacier of Uruashraju, we placed Camp II at 16,400 feet in the col which separates Pumahuacanca Chico (17,586 feet) from the Uruashraju group. So far we were probably following the route of the Californians John and Bill Dixon in their 1957 attack. At dawn on the 16th, while Mauri, Aldé, Emilio Angeles and I were preparing to set out on reconnaissance towards the southern buttress, a gasoline stove was knocked over and Mauri and Emilio’s tent flamed up in a matter of seconds. Miraculously both escaped unscathed. Therefore we had to make our summit attempt the next day, since the fire had destroyed part of our equipment. We set out on two ropes, Mauri and I, and Emilio and Macario Angeles, the latter of whom had come up from Camp I to substitute for Aldé. We descended from Camp II to the Uruashraju Glacier to the base of the west ridge. After crossing the bergschrund and after six hours of climbing on snow and ice, we reached the top of the south buttress. Unlike 1964, when a wall of ice drove Macario and me back, we climbed where part of the wall had fallen and reached the top of the buttress. From there we continued along the airy, beautiful crest which runs for 1000 feet on to the main summit. Halfway along this heavily corniced ridge the Angeles brothers returned. At the end of the ridge, bypassing a mushroom of ice, we went out into the west wall and ascended 60° to 70° ice. We placed ice screws, which we later used to rappel on the descent. Finally at 1:30 p.m. Carlo Mauri and I stepped onto the virgin summit.

Domingos Giobbi, Club Alpino Paulista

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