American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Huayhuash, Yerupajá, Northeast Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978

Yerupcijá, Northeast Face. Our expedition was composed of Dr. Peter Soklic, Mato Podrekar, Radovan Riedl, Janko Ažman, Vojko Bucer, Izador Kotier, Kristijan Langus, Marjan Manfreda, Ljubo Nemecek, Dušan Polajnar, Joše Rožic, Miha Smolej and me. After three days of approach by way of Llamac, Pocpa and Cacanan Pass, we reached Base Camp at Carhuacocha. Rožic and Smolej were bothered by the altitude and had to leave, Smolej joined us later, but Rožic had to fly home. In Base Camp we chose the main objective, a route on Yerupajá’s northeast face, first climbed in 1968 by Chris Jones and Paul Dix. (A.A.J., 1969, pages 271 to 274.) This rises from a glacier between Yerupajá and its neighbor, El Toro or Yerupajá Chico. The only way to the upper icefields leads over rocky ridges. These ridges, and the couloirs even more, are under constant fire from ice and rock falling from the upper séracs and the rocky summit gendarmes. There were problems not only in the wall. To reach the face we had to find the way through the chaos of crevasses and séracs over tiny snow bridges on the glacier which drops almost 3500 feet as an icefall. We lost some days searching for a way and on June 12 set up Camp II at 17,000 feet just under the wall. After fixing 1300 feet of rope on the rock pillar, we found this work too dangerous. It was like playing Russian Roulette. We decided to climb the rest of the face alpine-style without any more camps. On June 18 Manfreda, Kofler, Ažman and I began the ascent and sunrise found us high above the fixed ropes in icefields. Ažman broke his ice-ax and so he and Kofler climbed more slowly. There was no end of steep snow slopes mixed with overhanging séracs. The sun roasted us without mercy. It was too hot to die and I needed all my will to continue. We reached the corniced summit ridge and finally the summit at 3:30 P.M. We descended the same route rappelling and 650 feet lower met our friends still climbing up, but they then turned back. The night caught us at 19,700 feet. We had an unpleasant, cold, long bivouac dug in the ice without sleeping bags. In the morning we continued to rappel but at eight A.M. my left shoulder was struck by a rock. I could not descend by myself and so it cost my fellows a lot of work and trouble to get me down to Camp II that day and to Base Camp the next. From June 19 to 21 Polajnar, Langus, Bucer, Riedl and Podrekar worked out the best way to the east saddle of Jirishanca Chico and on June 21 they climbed the loose rock of the east ridge to the summit.

Janez Dovžan, Planinska Zveza Slovenije, Yugoslavia

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