American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru–Cordillera Blanca, Huantsán Attempt on East Ridge

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

Huantsán, Attempt on East Ridge. Jeffrey Duenwald, Andrew Harvard, Del Langbauer, James Janney, Paul and Chela Kunasz, my wife Nola and I left Olleros on July 21 and trekked for three days along an ancient Inca road over 15,700-foot Punta Yanashallash to Jatoc, where we turned north up to the head of the Quebrada Huantsán and Base Camp at 14,700 feet. On July 25 Louis and Cathy Reichardt arrived in camp, having been delayed by illness. The Reichardt-Kunasz foursome left to attempt Uruashraju’s north ridge. They turned back only 500 feet from the summit because one of them developed the early stages of pulmonary edema after they had overcome the difficulties of the climb. On July 26 we made a carry to the Huantsán col at 17,000 feet and occupied a camp there on July 28, while Nola remained to guard Base Camp. Duenwald, Harvard and Langbauer reconnoitered the lower reaches of the ridge, which we called the “Ridge of Mushrooms”. It was far more broken up than photographs taken prior to the earthquake would indicate. Several days were spent attempting to overcome or circumvent the lower ice mushroom (18,700 feet), the base of which was a bergschrund leading to direct aid ice climbing. Meanwhile, Janney and I climbed to within a few yards of the summit of P 5369 (17,615 feet), east of the col. The excellent view we had of the ridge confirmed our suspicion that similar technical difficulties could be found below each mushroom. We had hoped to climb it alpine-style and were not prepared for a siege. The attempt was abandoned on July 30 and we returned to Huaraz via Chavín in one long day from Base Camp.

JAMES MORRISSEY

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