American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Other Ranges, Ascents on Pumasillo Group, Cordillera Vilcabamba

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1969

Ascents in Pumasillo Group, Cordillera Vilcabamba. Our expedition included Dick Cowan, Paul Green, Bob McKerrow, Peter Goodwin, Mac Riding, Allen Higgins and myself as leader, all of New Zealand, together with John Lawrence from the North Carolina Outward Bound School, who joined us from June 8 to July 2. We established Base Camp at feet in a valley north of the Pumasillo basin on June 2. The Indians call this valley Río Raccachacca. (To our knowledge this valley is not on any map.) Our chief objectives were the ascents of Cúpula and Torayoc (called "Nameless Aguja" by Ruedi Schatz in Mountain World, 1960-61) and an attempt on the northern approaches to Pumasillo. The following ascents were made: Cúpula* (c. 17,000 feet), south ridge on June 6 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; La Aguja* (c. 17,500 feet), south ridge on June 7 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; Cima Rocallosa (16,810 feet), 3rd ascent, via west ridge on June 6 by Riding, Cowan, Goodwin, west ridge on July 15 by McNatty, Green, and west ridge on August 13 by Higgins, Green; "Tuto Orcco"* (c. 17,000 feet), south face on July 13 by Higgins, Cowan, McKerrow, Lawrence; Torayoc* (c. 18,000 feet), north ridge on June 16 by McNatty, Green, Riding, Goodwin, north ridge on June 21 by Lawrence, McKerrow, and east face (new route) and down north ridge on July 15 by Cowan, Goodwin; Mellizos (c. 18,400 feet), North Peak, north face (new route) on July 17 by Lawrence, McKerrow and ascent by north face and traverse on June 19 by Higgins, Cowan; Mellizos, South Peak, 3rd ascent, via east ridge on July 14 by McNatty, Green (and 2nd ascent of Low Peak via east face on same day); Ñu Ñu (c. 16,500 feet), both East and West Peaks from the west (new route) on June 19 by McNatty, Green, Goodwin, Riding; Kaiko (c. 17,500 feet), 3rd ascent, via north ridge (new route) and traverse on June 21 by McNatty, Green, Goodwin, from the east on July 15 by Higgins, McKerrow; Redondo (c. 17,700 feet), 3rd ascent, via west ridge on June 21 by McNatty, Green, Goodwin and on June 15 by McKerrow, Higgins, 1st traverse and retraverse by east and north ridges (attempting south ridge of Torayoc) on July 31 by Higgins, Goodwin, Cowan; "Pico Ccucho"* (c. 19,500 feet), north face on June 26 by Lawrence, McKerrow; "Nevado Lazona"* (c. 19,800 feet), north ridge on June 26 by Lawrence, McKerrow; "Nevado Reyerta"* (c. 16,500 feet), east ridge on July 1 by Cowan, Higgins; "Pacca Orcco"* (c. 16,800 feet), west ridge on July 18 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; Nevado Blanco (17,790 feet), north ridge (new route) on July 20 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; "Pico Granito"* (c. 16,000 feet), south face on July 26 by Cowan, Goodwin, Higgins; "Copo de Nieve"* (c. 19,200 feet), west ridge on August 3 by Cowan, Goodwin; "Nevado Fortaleza"* (c. 19,300 feet), east ridge on August 3 by Cowan, Goodwin. Pico Ccucho is at the junction of the ridges from Pumasillo, Mitre and the Mellizos and Lazona lies between Ccucho and Pumasillo. Northwest of Ccucho are Fortaleza and then Copo de Nieve and finally Mitre. Torayoc lies northeast of Redondo. Pico Granito is north of the pass north or Ñu Ñu. Tutu Orcco is just west of Nevado Blanco. Northeast of Nevado Blanco lies La Aguja and to the east of this, Nevado Reyerta. Pacca Orcco lies east of Cupula.

On the North Pumasillo Glacier we established Camp I at 17,000 and Camp II at 19,200 feet. We got onto the north ridge and traversed Pico Ccucho and Nevado Lazona. Lawrence and McKerrow reached a point some 200 feet below the summit of Pumasillo but 600 feet away in distance. They were blocked by a huge gap in the ridge of several hundred feet; beyond there were about five rock towers with huge, overhanging snow caps, the final tower being the true summit. With unstable, south-

facing snow into the gap we abandoned the attempt on June 27. Apart from the climbing we filmed the first ascent of Torayoc, sketched and explored valleys east and north of Cúpula and south and east of the Raccachacca. We had fine settled weather during June and July but poor weather in August when we left Base Camp on August 20. We hope to produce a sketch map based on D.A. Mackay’s map with more detail and local Indian names. The railway from Cuzco goes through Santa Teresa to the terminus at Chaullay on the Río Vilcanota. From there via Hacienda Paltybamba and Huancacalle on the Río Vilcabamba we travelled on a well-used mule trail into a valley the Indians call Pillaupata and ascended a high pass, which took us into the Río Raccachacca. (The Raccachacca drains into the Vilcabamba much lower than Huancacalle, but there is no feasible route for mules to the mouth of the Raccachacca.) The mule trip from Chaullay to Huancacalle took a day and a half and from there to Base Camp another day and a half. The best exit is via a mule track south of Cúpula, which leads into the Río Sacsara and thence to Santa Teresa. We used this route out, taking two days.

Kenneth P. McNatty, Wellington (New Zealand) Tramping and Mountaineering Club

*First ascent by any route. Quotation marks indicate an unofficial name.

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