South America, Peru, Central Peru, Tullujuto, Tunshu Group, Cordillera Central

Publication Year: 1971.

Tullujuto, Tunshu Group, Cordillera Central. After our arrival by truck at Azulcocha up the long road from Pachacayo and Canchayllo on June 30, the next day we set out on a several-pronged reconnaissance. What attracted us most was the highest pair of mountains in the region, double-peaked Tullujuto, which rises elegantly a thousand feet from the col that separates them to the 18,870-foot eastern rock summit and the 18,700-foot western snow peak. We were Rob Coppock, Colin Davidson, Willy Draper, Bill Paterson, Clyde Smith and me and the Peruvians Glicerio Henostroza and Lucio Bustamante. After a push towards Tembladera, aborted by a lack of acclimatization, we were camped at 17,000 feet on the glacier northwest of the peaks. On July 6 we all set out, hoping to make the third ascent of the higher peak via a new route, the west ridge out of the col. As we skirted the northern slopes it became apparent that Colin Davidson was suffering from the altitude. He and Lucio returned to camp. We had been able to see the steep ice ridge dropping precipitously toward the col but as we got closer we could see that the lower three pitches were of difficult rock. With so many climbers we could never make it without a bivouac. Bill Patterson and Rob Coppock kept on into the col, while Willy Draper, Clyde Smith, Glicerio Henostroza and I turned right up the 1000-foot northeast face of the slightly lower snow summit. It was steep but straightforward, though the snow varied from bottomless flour to ice. Finally at one o’clock we stepped onto the summit (18,700 feet), a third ascent and presumably a new route. The others were still on the rock of the east peak! Patterson did three magnificent leads, partly direct aid, partly jam, partly chimney, partly face holds, all of it rather delicate, on the snow-covered rock. Coopock took over on the snow and ice. First it was floundering in soft snow where every step had to be patted down before they could put their full weight on it. Then the ridge turned to two inches of firm snow lying at 55° on good ice. It was four o’clock before they wondered if they had time enough to make it and decided to climb a rock tower above to see how far they had to go. There, only fifteen feet away, lay the summit. It was an airy fifteen feet but they made it. It was well after dark before the pair made it back to camp. The next dawn I was awakened by “Colin is in bad shape!” He had all the dreaded symptoms of pulmonary edema. A little oxygen and by first light we were underway, Glicerio and Lucio taking turns, pick-a-backing him first down the very steep frozen snow, then moraine, polished slabs, grass slopes. Thanks to the unstinting pair, he was at Base Camp by mid-afternoon and in the hospital at Huancayo by one o’clock in the morning. Thus climbing operations came to an abrupt halt.

A note on names: The monograph brought out by the German expedition, Münchener Anden-Kundfahrt 1967, published by the Academic Section, Munich, of the Deutscher Alpenverein in 1969, has an excellent map in which the names appear generally to be in agreement with the names used locally. Pachancoto (“pot-belly” in Quechua) and Tullujuto (“pile of bones”) are misspelled. The latter gets its name from a pampa below the peak where bones abound from the battle in which the Incas finally conquered the Wali-Wankas. One name missing from the map is the peak that lies up against Tunshu, which is called Runsho (“it wants to scratch”) since it scratches the side of Tunshu. The latter means “bone marrow”. Tatatunshu is “young bone marrow”.

H. Adams Carter