American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Other Ranges, Chilpariti or "Wedge Peak," Cordillera Carabaya

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

Chilpariti or "Wedge Peak," Cordillera Carabaya. On May 9 my wife Elspeth and I returned to Macusani. The next day, along with "Jorge," our porter from last year, we set off and established Base Camp where the New Zealanders had had theirs in 1967. Two days later we were in a high camp at 17,000 feet immediately under the "Wedge” (c. 18,200 feet) where we sat out a 48-hour storm before retreating to Base Camp. Living in La Paz and climbing every weekend to over 5000 meters eliminated acclimatization problems. Our main difficulty was the choice of route. We discarded the idea of even looking at the south snow-and-ice face because of memories of last year’s powder snow. The 2000-foot vertical rock north face has only one break, a rock-swept couloir. The only possibility therefore was the glacier between "Wedge" and "Screwdriver." Once the weather settled, we returned to the high camp to have a look. The glacier was deceptive and gave six rope-lengths of 50° to 60° ice climbing. This brought us to a bowl split by a bergschrund, and another 350 feet of very steep ice led to the only break in the northeast rock wall of the mountain, which was guarded by a 125-foot headwall of vertical and very steep rock. Because of the late hour and lack of ice stakes to safeguard the descent, we retreated to Base Camp. On the next try, thanks to the steps cut three days before, we reached the bowl very quickly. We left bivouac gear there in case there were unseen difficulties above. The rock pitch was extremely difficult and took 1½ hours to lead. Then followed a vertical ice couloir that thankfully eased after a rope-length to 50° ice, which we ascended to the summit. This we reached at 3:10 p.m. on May 25. The descent was mainly 150-foot abseils from dexion aluminum stakes; we regained our high camp half an hour after dark. Back in Macusani, with the help of Sr. Alberto Zavala, we renamed the peak "Chilpariti," which in Quechua means "wedge of snow."

Roger Whewell, Rucksack Club

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