American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Attempt on Huantsán, Ascents of Yahuarraju, Santa Cruz Norte, and Other Peaks

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1968

Attempt on Huantsán, Ascents of Yahuarraju, Santa Cruz Norte, and Other Peaks, Cordillera Blanca. The expedition of the Nagano branch of the All-Japan Mountaineering Association was led by Eiichi Murai, with Yasuo Yokochi as deputy leader, and composed of Takehiko Hayashi, Iwao Hama, Mitsuaki Nishigori, Katsunobu Hamada, Kazutomo Kobayashi, Akira Miyashita, Yuji Komatsu and Akira Yamada. The first phase was in the Quebrada Rajucolta. They left Huaraz with 25 burros on June 9 and arrived at Base Camp near Rajucoltacocha at 13,800 feet the next day. Camp I was established at Yahuarcocha at 15,100 feet on June 12. Camp II was on the glacier below the southwest face of Huantsán at 17,000 feet. From Camp I on June 21 Yokochi and Komatsu made the first ascent of P 5377 (17,641 feet) south of Yahuarcocha, and on the 22nd Hama and Hamada climbed the mountain between the latter and Yahuarraju (c. 5300 meters or 17,389 feet). Yahuarraju (18,620 feet; first ascent by Emilio Angeles, A. Carter and D. Giobbi, July 17, 1965) was climbed twice from Camp II: on June 22 by Miyashita and Kobayashi and on June 27 by Nishigori, Hamada, Hayashi, Komatsu and Yamada. The attempt to climb Huantsán from the south failed but on June 23 Hayashi, Nishigori, Miyashita, Komatsu and Kobayashi reached the 19,405-foot south summit. Also from Camp II Yamada and Komatsu made the second ascent of Rurec (18,700 feet; first ascent by same three noted above) on June 25. On June 29 Miyashita and Komatsu made the first ascent of P 5406 (17,737 feet), north of Rajucolta, from Base Camp with a bivouac. On July 8 they had established their second Base Camp on the west shore of Cullicocha (15,250 feet) in the Quebrada de las Lagunas, but influenza and fatigue from the Huantsán climb stopped activities for some time. The approach to Santa Cruz Norte was difficult because of crevasses on the west side and because the lower end of the west ridge falls off with a tremendous rock wall. After getting along the left (north) bank of Cullicocha and squeezing past its eastern end and Rajucocha, they pitched Camp I at 15,250 feet. On July 18 they climbed to the end of the glacier and kept on up between the glacier and the moraine to reach the upper glacier, where Camp II was pitched under the west face at 17,000 feet. From a picture of Mr. Leigh Ortenburger they decided not to attack the apparently impossible eastern rock wall. However the west ridge was found to be knife-edged and covered with terrible cornices which had dangerous-looking mushrooms here and there. It seemed utterly untouchable. Several routes were tried unsuccessfully, but the activities of the support party continued and Camp II was well supplied. They finally decided to try the fluted west face, which rose 1300 feet at 60° to 70°. On July 20 and 21 they fixed ropes on this almost vertical fluted wall. It snowed and blew all day on the 22nd. The 23rd dawned fine and Hayashi, Nishigori, Miyashita and Kobayashi left in high spirits. They climbed the 1300-foot wall and bivouacked on the west ridge. On the 24th, they scrambled over snow mushrooms and finally reached the top of Santa Cruz Norte (19,125 feet) at 12:45 P.M. The descent was also treacherous and they were forced to bivouac on the ridge. July 25 brought them down to Camp II, struggling with the fierce wind. On July 28 Komatsu, Yamada and Hamada made the first ascent of P 5320 (17,454 feet) via its northwest ridge. This lies north of the dam between the two lakes.

Ichiro Yoshizawa, Japanese Alpine Club

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