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South America, Peru, Cordilleras Vilcabamba and Urubamba, Salcantay, Cordillera Vilcabamba, and Huascarán Norte

Salcantay, Cordillera Vilcabamba, and Huascarán Norte, Cordillera Blanca. The objectives of the Jubilee Expedition of the Sektion Bayerland of the German Alpine Club (DAY) were changed by the earthquake of May 31, which prevented our climbing on Pucahirca, Alpamayo and Santa Cruz. We arrived in Lima exactly at the time of the earthquake. To our regret, offers to help had to be refused by the Peruvian government for lack of facilities. We then decided to head into the Cordillera Vilcabamba. From June 13 to July 5 we climbed a number of peaks of about 5000 meters from our Base Camp southeast of Salcantay. This lay at 15,600 feet. The southeast ridge of Salcantay descends to P 5100 (16,733 feet), which we climbed five times. This main ridge continues south over P 5000 (16,404 feet; seven ascents), Pass 4950, P 5170 (16,962 feet; four ascents), P5130 (16,831 feet; three ascents), and P5350 (17,553 feet; climbed by three expedition members). Just north of the last peak a spur swings west (towards Humantay) from which rises P 5075 (16,650 feet), which five of us climbed. P 5185 (17,011 feet) lies on the ridge that-extends northwest from Salcantay; it was climbed by five of us. There was no sign on the summits that any of these peaks had been climbed before and we find no record of ascents in the literature. From June 27 to July 1 Jürgen Vogt, Heinz Höbrich, Michael Olzowy, Heinz Hauer and I made the first ascent of the 4000-foot-high south buttress. The buttress, which starts at 15,250 feet, presents an approach to the upper part of the west ridge, the crest of which we reached on June 30 on the 19,500-foot peak. The buttress is south-facing, extremely difficult and objectively dangerous. We continued a way along the west ridge towards the main summit but quit at 19,750 feet because we did not have adequate equipment, such as 6-foot snow pickets. There were still very difficult and even perpendicular steps of 125 feet, connected by flatter icefields, which measured up to 60°. From June 25 to July 7 Dr. Fritz Weidmann, Manfred Rogge and Herbert Karasek made the second ascent of the northeast ridge, climbed for the first time by the Japanese in 1968. (See A.A.J., 1969, 16:2, pp. 533-4.) Since Base Camp was on the south side of Salcantay, they had to take a day to reach the base of the ridge. They got to the highest (the northeast) summit (20,574 feet)1 on June 30 to complete the seventh ascent of the peak.

The Corporación del Santa, a government agency in charge of developing the valley of the Río Santa, then requested our help in the earthquake region. They wanted me, as a geodesist, to make a photogrammetric survey of the disaster area of the avalance which destroyed Yungay and Ranrahirca. Meanwhile other members of our group climbed Huascarán Norte (21,834 feet) to check ice conditions and the possibilities of other avalanches. Dr. Weidmann and Vogt reached the top on July 21; Hauer and the Peruvian porters Justiniano Huamán and Marcelino Morales on July 22 and Köbrich, Karasek and Rogge on July 27. Each group took two to four days from our 13,450-foot Base Camp, climbing the normal route through the Garganta. On August 3 and 4 Olzowy and the porters Morales and Huamán were turned back at about 18,850 feet on Ranrapalca by an 80-foot gap in the summit icefield; doubtless this had been caused by the earthquake. On September 17 Olzowy and Köbrich climbed the main (19,935 feet) and the northeast (19,708 feet) summits of Chachani near Arequipa, both frequently climbed.

Walter Welsch, Deutscher Alpenverein

1 Various altitudes have been given for Salcantay. Dr. Welsch feels that the figure now given by the Peruvian Instituto Geográfico Militar of 6271 meters or 20,574 feet to be accurate and better than the height arrived at by Dr. Egeler’s triangulation of 6081 meters 19,951 feet, made in 1956. On Dr. Welsch’s recommendation we shall use 20,574 feet .-Editor.