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South America, Bolivia, Huayna Potosí, North Ridge

Huayna Potosí, North Ridge. At Easter I hiked from the Zongo Pass on the east side of Huayna Potosí along the aqueduct to a small lake below the northeast (see correction below) and north ridges. From here, between snow squalls, I could see that a glacier led up to the base of a wall, the top of which was the north ridge. On May 1 Marshall Danker, Peter Williams and I climbed scree above the lake and then ascended the glacier as quickly as possible to the base of the wall to get out from under overhanging ice sculptures. The first pitch up the wall was an enjoyable rock chimney, where I used three pitons for protection. Then came a steep snow finger which led to a bergschrund with a good belay point for the beautiful ice and snow couloir above. I protected my next lead with two pickets followed by two pitons placed in the rock to the right. The couloir steepened to 75°, where I had to settle for a piton driven between the ice and rock for protection. The very last part of the couloir overhung; I used a picket to pull myself up to where I could worm my right boot into the crack between the ice and rock and clamber onto a ledge. Next came a steep snowpatch to the base of a rock cliff. After a lead up the rock it got dark and so we roped ourselves to a ledge for the night. In the morning three rope-lengths of easier rock brought us to the crest of the north ridge and the edge of another glacier. Threading our way around crevasses, we continued up to where the north ridge joins the northeast. Several rope-lengths up this icy knife-edge brought us to the “Sugar Bowl”. From there we cramponed to the summit.