American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Huascarán, Southwestern Summit

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1973

Huantsán, Southwestern Summit. On my suggestion, the Gallarate section of the Club Alpino Italiano chose to attempt the ascent of Huantsán (20,981 feet) by its south ridge. Members were Dr. Sandro Liati, leader and doctor; Carmelo di Pietro, Antonio Galmarini, Luigi Guidali, Giovanni Giannantonio, Mario Mazzoleni, Gian Battista Zarolti, Luigi Alippi, Casimiro Ferrari and I. We left Huaraz on June 5 with the porters Emilio, Macario and Victorino Angeles, Juan Valverde and Juan Inchicaque. Base Camp was established late the next day at 14,000 feet at the lake at the head of the Quebrada Rajucolta. Camp I was placed on the glacier at 17,225 feet after we slabbed around Yahuarraju. The logical place for Camp II was in the col that separates Huantsán Sur and the main peak. We wondered whether we should follow the 1967 route of the Japanese when they made the first ascent of Huantsán Sur and then descend north to the col or whether we should traverse the west face. Despite the difficulty and the danger, we opted for the latter as being shorter. For four days, June 11 to 14, Di Pietro, Galmarini, Ferrari, Alippi, Macario Angeles and I prepared the route, fixing 1300 feet of rope among crevasses and séracs. Finally on June 15 Di Pietro, Galmarini, Ferrari and I slept in Camp II at 18,700 feet. On the 16th Ferrari and I reconnoitered up the west face to reach the south ridge at 19,700 feet. From that point we could clearly see that the south ridge did not head to the summit of Huantsán but to the southwestern summit* which was well separated from the main peak. This southwestern summit is connected to the main peak by a thin southwest-northeast ridge in the form of a funnel, which loses itself in the overhangs of the west face of the main peak. The true south ridge drops farther east. Bad weather then intervened, during which falling séracs swept out three-quarters of our fixed rope between Camps I and II. While Ferrari and Alippi descended on June 19 to refix the route, Di Pietro, Galmarini and I ascended the north ridge of Huantsán Sur (19,406 feet) and completed the second ascent by a new route. Returning to Camp II, we found not only Alippi, Ferrari and Liati, but also Giannantonio, Mazzoleni and Guidali, who had ascended from Camp I. June 20 dawned cloudless. At seven A.M. we headed up the route prepared up the west face and south ridge. The drop to the eastern side of the ridge was fantastic. At 12:55 P.M. we finished climbing the airy crests above those we had already fixed and got to the southwestern summit (20,571 feet). Meanwhile on June 17 Zaroli with Emilio and Macario Angeles had made the third ascent of Rurec (18,701 feet; first ascent by Emilio Angeles, Adams Carter, Domingos Giobbi on July 17, 1965; second ascent by Yamada and Komatsu on June 25, 1967). On June 24 Galmarini and Zaroli made the first ascent of P 5293 (17,366 feet), which lies on the ridge west of Huamashraju and east of P 5406.

Domingos Giobbi, Clube Alpino Paulista, Brasil

*The Italians claim to have climbed a distinct, separate summit, but this is clearly debatable. As seen on photos in profile, the drop in altitude from the top of the southwestern summit into the col appears about a third the distance from the top of the southwestern summit to the main summit. If this is, as the Italians state, 410 feet, the drop into the col would be only 137 feet The reader may judge from published photos. See Plate 50, A.A.J., 1966 15:1 for a photo from the west and page 83 of Kinzl and Schneider’s Cordillera Blanca for a photo from the east.

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