American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Pumahuacanca and Other Peaks

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1970

Pumahuacanca and other peaks. I met Alistair McKeith, a Scottish climber, by chance in Huaraz. Hoping to make the first ascent of Pumahuacanca (“weeping puma” in Quechua), we left the road at Olleros on June 19 and followed the ancient trade route which crosses the Cordillera Blanca via the Punta Yanashallash to Chavín. We camped that night in the Quebrada Pumahuacanca but next day decided a better approach would be via the Quebrada Rurec. We crossed the ridge between the quebradas. We ascended the Quebrada Rurec on meadows that extend from wall to wall of this Yosemite-like valley. We were impressed by a big-as-life twin of Yosemite’s Sentinel Rock. A Base Camp was placed at the head of the quebrada near the lake, Tararhuacocha, filled with remnants of séracs which fell continuously from the hanging glacier 1500 feet above the east shore. On June 21 I climbed P 5100 (16,733 feet: first ascent by William Dixon, August 20, 1957: A.A.J., 1958, 11:1, p. 115) two kilometers north of the lake by its east slope and ridge. The same day McKeith made an ascent of P 5120 (16,798 feet; first ascent by Dixon and Jac Lasner, August 5, 1957) one kilometer northwest of the lake from the south. We carried a light camp to 16,000 feet to the base of the chute that heads at the col between Pumahuacanca and Pumahuacanca Chico. On June 24 we climbed easy rock to the col and traversed some 500 feet onto the east flank of the northeast ridge and ascended directly to the northwest summit on snow and rock pitches which required some belaying. The northwest summit was slightly lower than the southeast one (18,252 feet). The summit ridge traverse was made on swiss-cheese water ice and required some direct aid with ice screws. On August 12 Steve Moore, Bob Erickson and I climbed a minor peak of 5300 meters (17,389 feet) one kilometer south of Huantsán Chico by its west ridge. On September 27 Daniel Maldonado Drago, Benjamín Yánac and I climbed the southwest ridge of Huamashraju to a point below the west face of the summit ice tower where we were stopped by bad ice conditions and too few ice screws.

Hugh R. Clark, Club Andinista Cordillera Blanca

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