American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Central Peru, Anilcocha, Cordillera Huagaruncho

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

Anilcocha, Cordillera Huagaruncho. The Cordillera Huagaruncho is of low altitude by Peruvian standards, but lying far east on the edge of the Amazon basin, it receives more precipitation and the snow level stretches down to 13,800 feet. Since my climbing partner, Scotsman Frank Hepburn, is a school teacher in Lima with only a ten-day vacation, we had little time to acclimatize and the range seemed the perfect choice. Leaving from the pueblo of Huachon, we chose to hike into the southern section through the mining camp of Tingocancha for the simple reason that all other expeditions except for Leif Patterson’s group in 1970 had entered the range from the north. We were looking for a short but interesting climb and upon arriving at that beautiful alpine lake, Suerococha, the natural choice was the 5095-meter (16,717-foot) peak immediately east of the main peak of Huagaruncho, named by the local people Anilcocha. We finally pulled ourselves away from our paradise Base Camp and the golden trout to make a reconnaissance. After hiking to the col between Huagaruncho and Anilcocha we decided to try the southwest ridge which included some four pitches of fourth-class rock. We thought we could do it in one long day, but we had fallen victim to a common Peruvian malady: underestimating the peaks. At four P.M. the next day we still hadn’t reached the rock part of the ridge, having been delayed by broken sections in the ice. We decided to retreat to try the east ridge. We left Suerococha and headed for a lake just south of Anilcocha. Our trail soon turned into a well preserved Inca highway and we found ourselves climbing staircases cut out of bedrock. We left camp on the turquoise lake at five A.M. for the east ridge. After a pleasant hike up the glacier, we got to the base of the ridge which started with a couple of sections of sound fourth-class rock. The rock went quickly and soon we were strapping crampons back on for a 45° ice section. Things leveled off first and then after one more short section of 45° ice we summited at two P.M. The summit was a one-at-a-time needle.

Richard Ridgeway

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