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South America, Bolivia, Condoriri, Northwest Face and Kalhuani, Cordillera Real

Condoriri, Northwest Face and Kalhuani, Cordillera Real. On July 3 John Ross and I headed toward the 1500-foot-high northwest face of Condoriri. Since it seemed relatively free of obstacles, we aimed straight at the eastern summit. First we had to cross a crevasse which ran the width of the face. From there the grade steepened to at least 55° to 60°, but conditions were very good: glacial ice, but seldom blue or too hard. We climbed unroped as high as possible, for speed was essential. About halfway we roped up and veered right through a notch in a band of rocks which cut across our path. At this point we started using alpine hammers. Our protection gear consisted of a few long aluminum pickets, which we did not use on the ascent, reserving them for any descent problems. Climbing around rocks on the left, John and I headed for the summit on what was the steepest part of the face, 65° to 70°. Finally, at 1:45, five hours after starting, we reached the eastern summit just as clouds rolled in. We now faced the dangerous task of walking the ridge to the main summit. Visibility was 20 feet and the ridge was rotten with cornices in both directions. At five P.M. we stood on the summit of Condoriri (18,531 feet). The clouds momentarily cleared and we saw our companions by our camp. We hurried down the “regular” route through the western col, mostly by moonlight. We arrived at camp at eleven P.M. That same day Kenny Kramberg and John Wriggley ascended Kalhuani from the south, up the middle of the face and into the col between the two peaks. From the col they climbed the ridge to the higher eastern summit (18,018 feet). Upon returning to the col, they climbed the western summit. Descent was by the same route. The ascent took four hours and the total time on the mountain, eight. This previously unclimbed mountain lies two kilometers north of Condoriri.

Andrew Nawrocky