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South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Peaks above Quebrada Rajucolta

Peaks above Quebrada Rajucolta. On July 15 we left Huaraz for the Quebrada Rajucolta to attempt several climbs, among them the unclimbed south ridge of Huantsán (20,981 feet). The two females, Alice Liska and Molly Weinstein planned to stay at Base Camp above the Laguna Rajucolta while the others, Reed Cundiff, Larry Duelsberg, George Oetzel and I, packed food and equipment to the mountain. We used no porters, which helped to acclimate us effectively. During the next ten days we worked out of a high camp on the glacier under Huantsán’s spectacular west face. Bad weather with high east winds and deep snow prevented our reaching much above 19,000 feet on the south ridge. On July 26, however, we made the third ascent of Yahuarraju (18,620 feet), which was quite accessible from our high camp and which offered excellent exposed ice climbing on the 500-foot summit pyramid (First ascent by E. Angeles, A. Carter, D. Giobbi, July 17, 1965. See A.A.J., 1966, 15:1, pp. 69-62.) After we returned to the Laguna Rajucolta, the girls hiked back to Huaraz by themselves and we were joined by Harold Walton for the final week and a half. We set up another high camp in a basin just west of spectacular P 5406 (17,737 feet), of which we made the second ascent on July 31 by the glacier under its southeast face and finally on rock up the east face itself. On both P 5406 and Yahuarraju we found evidence of the Japanese group which had been in the area earlier in the summer. (See above.) For the final climbs camp was moved again, this time some two miles down the Quebrada Rajucolta to a point some 4000 feet below the summits on the south face of Huamashraju (17,825 feet) and Huamashraju Este (c. 17,780 feet), the latter still unclimbed. (Some of the local shepherds refer to the two peaks as "Yanahuacra,” a most strikingly apt name, since from the south the Huamashraju group does closely resemble "black cow’s horns.”—Editor.) Bad weather again plagued us with six inches of wet snow at 13,400 feet. Finally it cleared and we ascended the south slopes of the quebrada to place a high camp at 16,000 feet. Huamashraju’s glacier-polished granite, covered by several feet of "south-slope powder,” made the ascent the next day, August 4, grueling, though the summit was reached in superb weather. We then descended, crossed a high saddle and climbed the south face and west ridge of Huamashraju Este. The ascent of about 400 feet above this high saddle was extremely steep and exposed. We stopped just below the tiny summit platform as night approached and descended via a series of rappels. This fine pair of summits required some 400 feet of fixed line for security.

Donald S. Liska