AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

David Seidman, 1946-1969

Chopicalqui, Cordillera Blanca. On July 12 Dr. Alan Cooper, Jim Janney, Bill Phillips and I reached the previously unclimbed summit of the spectacular gendarme of approximately 20,000 feet which rises about 400 feet above the north ridge. Except for the rappel from the top of the gendarme, there did not appear to be any significant climbing problems left if we had continued on to the main summit of Chopicalqui (20,998 feet). From a base camp in the Quebrada Llanganuco and an advance base camp a few feet above the Portachuelo de Llanganuco, high camps were placed at 17,000, 18,000 and 19,000 feet on the ridge. Although we fixed over 1000 feet of rope to ease load-carrying, there were no major technical problems up to 19,000 feet. We had minor route- finding problems between the corniced ridge and the glacier on the northwest face. Light snow on seven of nine days also delayed us. Above Camp III the climbing difficulties increased. Six pitches of 50° to 60° unstable ice on a fluted face led to easier ground before a 1000-foot traverse to the top; ice would break off in large blocks with kicking. Ice pitons were of no use and rappel pickets inspired little confidence—when they could be driven at all. The eight-pitch traverse to the summit was the most spectacular and rewarding part of the climb. The first pitch bypassed a huge overhanging cornice on the solid 50° ice of the east side about 30 feet below the crest. One lead of chopping sidehill on high-angle ice convinced us to traverse the absolute crest of the cornice. Five pitches were climbed in this fashion with each step no more than a foot or two from the crest. On occasion ice no more than a foot thick was called on to hold the climber—but it always did. Slabs of downward-sloping ice, double cornices and one tunnel proved more airy than dangerous. The last two pitches ascended the summit tower, which was mostly ice with a few moves on rock. The rock was nearly vertical but with good holds. Some of the ice on the summit was a thin covering over rock with large air spaces between the ice and the rock. The summit itself, a symmetrical snow cone which peaked to a sharp point, was reached about five p.m. as the sun was setting. The descent was made in the light of a full moon. The 18-hour summit day was the only extended effort of the expedition. Other members of the expedition included Roman Laba, Tom Kimbrough, Jim Madsen, Kim Schmitz and Sam Streibert. They attempted the northeast face of Huandoy Sur but were turned back by dangerous rockfall. A drought in Peru had resulted in more rock being exposed than normal. In other years this would probably be a reasonable snow and ice face relatively free from rockfall.

Boyd N. Everett, Jr.