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

Huandoy, Attempt on South Face. The French Cordillera Blanca Expedition, organized by the Groupe de Haute Montagne, tried in vain from June 15 to July 15 to ascend the very difficult south face of Huandoy. This imposing 3000-foot vertical rock wall rises to the 20,210-foot south peak; it is of compact granite and presents, partly from lack of freezing and melting, zones of unstable rock. The sun never sees the face so the temperature is always below freezing, but it is quite bearable. The lower half of the face can be avoided by climbing a rocky snow spur, which blends into the face at 18,500 feet. The climb had been tried by Americans, English and Argentines, most seriously by the English, who gave up 350 feet above the snow spur. We were Pierre Barthélémy, Patrice Bodin, Jérôme Brunet, Patrick Cordier, Jean Fréhel and myself as leader. After studying the face, we decided to attack the face directly up above the snow spur. Very soon, because of unfavorable weather this year, we changed to the less ambitious route of the English. Above the spur, we would traverse 200 yards right to a 500-foot-high dihedral, which would let us escape to a less steep zone that led to the west ridge at a little more than 19,000 feet. We finally gave up because of bad weather and slow progress 350 feet beyond the English high point. We were on rotten rock where it was dangerous. To try the direct route would require a camp on the snow spur and a comfortable one on the glacier by the bergschrund. Climbing on difficult terrain between 16,500 and 19,000 feet caused no particular problems after a good acclimatization. Usually weather conditions are ideal but not this year. It was always unsettled and stormed from June 28 to July 2. Our high altitude camping gear was insufficient for the conditions and we did not have enough of it for a camp at the foot of the face on the glacier. With better conditions the direct route would still be an extremely ambitious project because of the steepness of the face, its difficulty, and the rotten rock.

Claude Deck, Groupe de Haute Montagne