American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Huandoy Sur, Attempt on South Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1969

Huandoy Sur, Attempt on South Face. Although Don Whillans, leader, and the Scots David Bathgate, Ian MacEacheran and Brian Robertson arrived at Lima on May 27, a series of irritating delays prevented the release of our equipment from customs until June 17. It was decided that Robertson and MacEacheran should go to Huaraz, there to acclimatise themselves and prepare for the move to Base Camp. Whillans and Bathgate arrived at Huaraz with the equipment on June 20 and we all left on the morning of June 22 and established Base Camp on the same evening at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The following ten days were spent in establishing two more camps. Camp I was four hours away on a moraine at about 17,000 feet. Camp II was placed on July 2 in a snow cave just below the south face at 18,000 feet. The chosen line of attack was via a steep snow ramp which sloped at an average angle of 45 ° for a length of 1500 feet. The ramp terminated in the centre of the face where the main difficulties of the climb would begin. We had fixed the entire length of the ramp with rope by July 11. Two teams, Whillans and MacEacheran forming one and Bathgate and Robertson the other, alternated in the work. On July 12 we all moved up to the top of the snow ramp, and while Bathgate and Robertson started work on a rock and ice traverse, the other two established a bivouac site at 19,700 feet and then returned to the snow cave. Three possible routes presented themselves from the top of the ramp. The first, to the right, was discarded immediately because of bad rock, which was continuously overhanging. The second, which started from the highest point of the ramp, was the route eventually chosen. The third possibility, however, was probably the best of the three but began some 400 feet left of the ramp and looked long and devious. All three routes were on bad, either vertical or overhanging rock and it was obvious that the climbing between 19,700 and 21,100 feet would be the crux of the whole climb. Bathgate and Robertson worked for the next two days on the problem, but the plan had to be abandoned since the rock traverse above the ramp proved unjustifiably dangerous.

David Bathgate, Squirrels Climbing Group, and

Don Whillans, Alpine Climbing Group

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