American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Chopicalqui, Ulta, Contrahierbas, Cayesh, San Juan, Pucaraju

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

Chopicalqui, Ulta, Contrahierbas, Cayesh, San Juan, Pucaraju. The New Zealand Andean Expedition climbed in the Cordillera Blanca from May to August. Members of the party were Maurice Conway, Stuart Allen, Steve Dawson, Oily McCahon, Trevor Caines, Walter and Neil Fowlie and I. The following is a summary of the climbing. Quebrada Ulta: The main objective was the unclimbed east ridge of Chopicalqui (20,998 feet). The climb was abandoned at 19,500 feet after three days of alpine-style climbing on this formidable ridge of endless mushrooms. Perhaps a bad season made it worse than usual, but we doubt that it will ever be very easy. Dawson and I also attempted the unclimbed northwest face of Nevado Ulta (19,275 feet) failing after three days on the face about 300 feet from the top where the snow changed from bad to impossible. We did complete the following: Contrahierbas (19,803 feet) on May 21-23 by Conway, Caines, W. and N. Fowlie; Ulta (19,275 feet) via north rib on May 28-31 by Conway, Caines, W. and N. Fowlie, 3rd ascent; route repeated on June 1-3 by Dawson, McCahon, Mc- Ilwraith; Chopicalqui via southeast ridge on July 1-5 by Conway, McCahon, W. and N. Fowlie with South Africans R. Fuggle and A. Dick. (This was completed on its second try in typically bad snow conditions after the first try turned into a rescue when a cornice broke under me and I fell 100 feet before being held by Neil Fowler who went down the other side of the ridge.) Quebrada Quilcayhuanca: Here Allen and Dawson succeeded in the second main objective of the expedition when they reached the top of the unclimbed west face of Cayesh (18,770 feet) between July 11 and 15. The route on the face involved three days of sustained mixed climbing, the rock giving difficult free climbing requiring aid in places. The climbers came out two or three pitches below the summit on the ridge and spent another two days descending by the ridge.

Caines, McCahon and I climbed San Juan (19,170 feet) by its west ridge on July 26 and 27. This was the one snow and ice route where reasonable conditions were encountered. Conway and the South African Greg Moseley made the second ascent of Pucaraju (17,540 feet), which they climbed by its northwest ridge.

Wayne McIlwraith, New Zealand Alpine Club

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