American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru–Cordillera Blanca, Hulcán Sur

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1972

Hualcán Sur. I returned in July to the Cordillera Blanca to climb in the Hualcán* group, which had been explored primarily by Austro-German climbers in 1932 and 1939. We also learned from porter friends in Huaraz that an Austrian group in 1954 and a Swiss one had tried to cross the plateau glacier from Hualcán to Copa but failed in bottomless powder snow. We penetrated into the group from Carhuaz up the Quebrada Hualcán, crossing the Rio Chucchun. With me were Macario, Emilio and Victorino Angeles and my wife Adriana. On July 14, after a lovely day’s march with views of Hualcán and of Huascarán to the north, we set up an intermediate camp at Matecunchu Pampa at 12,150 feet below Rajupakinar Lake (13,125 feet; Quechua: “where the ice falls”). This was a marvelous spot to see the northern summits and the ridge. It was obvious that access to the Hualcán plateau above the lake was threatened by séracs; the ice reaches the lake, and this is one of the few points where a glacier descends so low in the whole range. Geologists of the Corporatión del Santa are particularly worried that this lake and two others at the western foot of Hualcán may spill. Therefore we slabbed south on July 17 along rocky slopes above Huin-acpampa to locate Base Camp at 13,625 feet on a little flat. From there the slopes led directly to the glacier plateau without passing througn the séracs. On the 18th we set up Camp I at 15,600 feet, high on the rock and nearly on the ice. From that central point we could scan the whole Hualcán group. To the north were P 6125 and P 6104, highest in the group, climbed in 1939 by S. Rohrer and K. Schmid. Then came P 5850, similar to Ocshapalca, still unclimbed and our objective. Next south were two peaks of about 5600 meters (18,373 feet) not on the map of the 1939 Alpenverein, southern part. The ridge ended in a lovely pyramid of 5645 meters (18,520 feet), Hualcán Sur, and descended to the glacial plateau at 17,700 feet. Bad weather had built cornices and created avalanche danger that put P 5850 out of the question for 1971 and this remains the goal of the 1972 Brazilian expedition. We set up Camp II on July 18 at 16,900 feet below the three southernmost summits. It took several days from Camp II to prepare a route through a series of crevasses that run from north to south along the whole plateau glacier. Finally on July 22, despite bad weather which cleared as we reached the final pyramid, Marcario and Emilio Angeles and I completed the first ascent of Hualcán Sur or P 5645, ascending on hard snow the 50° slopes on the northeast. On July 24, still in bad weather, we three climbed the southernmost of the two P 5600s after a long slog in deep snow on the west face. We tried to continue to the twin summit but crevasses prevented this. Neither of these peaks is what Kinzl calls in Cordillera Blanca Hualcán Central (5500 m), climbed by him, Borchers and Hoerlin in 1932 and later climbed by César Morales Arnao and called Hualcán Oeste (5500 m) by him in Andinismo en la Cordillera Blanca. Dr. Hoerlin explains, “My 5500 m cosmic ray station was south of P 5645. None of us climbed P 5645 nor any point of 5600 m north of it.”

DOMINGOS GIOBBI, Clube Alpino Paulista

*The name is Quechua and should be spelled Huallcan; it means “Necklace.” —Editor.

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