American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru–Cordillera Blanca, Attempt on Uruashraju and Ascent of Huascarán

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 1972

Attempt on Uruashraju and Ascent of Huascarán. Timothy K. Griffin and I attempted Uruashraju (18,815 feet) via the south ridge, which was climbed by Giobbi and Mauri in 1966. Leaving Base Camp at the head of the Quebrada Rurec on July 13, we placed a single high camp in the col just below the summit of Pumahuacanca Chico. One of our porters contracted soroche and we were left with very heavy loads to force up a steep ice couloir to the col. After a rest day we descended on the 15th to the southwest side of the Uruashraju Glacier and then climbed to the south ridge. However from 650 feet below the summit to the very top, the ridge narrowed until both east and west faces met beneath a cornice that projected in both directions. After continuing a few slow rope-lengths in extremely deep snow, we felt it wiser to return. Leaving Musho on July 23 without porters or burros, we placed two camps on Huascarán before reaching the Garganta. Fair and cloudy weather alternated; we had a foot of new snow. Before the Garganta we struck south, placing our third camp on a steep snow slope on a crevasse ledge for avalanche protection. On the 26th we ascended directly toward the summit on an ice rib, by-passing the Garganta. By eleven A.M. we grew weary of the severe exposure and high winds and we cut into the icefall in a white-out. Vertical ice walls required direct aid and it was 4:30 when we arrived on the summit ridge at 21,000 feet, where we dug a cave. At dawn we crawled out and two hours later were on the summit. I suffered a minor case of deep frostbite in my right hand.

EDWARD R. BALDWIN, Alpine Club of Canada

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