American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Colombia, Pico Ojeda and La Reina, Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1974

Pico Ojeda and La Reina, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. In December 1972 and January 1973 I led a climbing and spider-collecting expedition to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The members were Kent Johnson, Bruce Talbot, my brother Peter and I. We set up Base Camp at 14,400 feet near the head of the Donachuí River, 12,000 feet above Atanquez, which was 30 to 40 miles away. We reached Base Camp in nine days from Atanquez, taking time to talk with the Indians in Donachuí and Sogromen, argue the price of our land crossing tax and mules and help build a new road*. We took the mules only as far as Meoyaca, the highest Indian town at 12,000 feet. From there on, we took more time to acclimatize and to collect spiders and carried 90-pound packs for the rest of the way. On January 7, our second day at Base Camp we made an unsuccessful attempt to climb El Guardián in a day trip. The next day we moved up to the 15,400-foot lake west of La Reina. The most dangerous part of the expedition was getting around this lake on steep rock walls, covered with loose gravel. We climbed the next day up to 16,600 feet on the glacier between Pico Ojeda and La Reina. We four climbed La Reina (18,158 feet) on January 10. On the 11th Johnson, Talbot and I ascended Pico Ojeda (18,012 feet) by the southwest snow ramp. Ojeda was just as easy as La Reina but more exposed.

John A. Kochalka, University of Vermont Outing Club

*In mid-February Philip C. Ritterbush and four companions left Atanquez but were refused permission to proceed above the village of Donachuí by the local Comisario of that town regardless of letters from higher authorities. See Summit, June 1973, pages 26 to 28. Kochalka and his companions were charged 700 pesos (at about 24 pesos per dollar) and made to do a day’s labor on the road before being allowed to continue.

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