American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru—Cordillera Vilcabamba, Salcantay, South Face and East Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1979

Salcantay, South Face and East Ridge. Our expedition took two days to get from Mollepata over Pampa Soray to Base Camp at 15,425 feet under the south face of Salcantay on June 2. The next day four of us reconnoitered the whole south and southeast side of the mountain. We found out that the southeast ridge was the least complicated. As Base Camp was too far from there, we crossed a small pass in a ridge that runs south from the peak and placed Advanced Base in a small saddle in the southeast ridge. I believe it is called Palcay Pass, because on the side away from the peak the ridge rises to Chuyunca and Palcay peaks. The southeast ridge is really more a kind of face. Together with the east ridge, it forms a kind of triangle with the highest point at about 19,500 feet. Our Camp I was in the middle of the triangle on a large platform. There was one complicated place between Advanced Base and Camp I; séracs just below the platform. The most difficult part of the route was where we joined the east ridge. (The entire east ridge had been previously climbed.) At the junction we had to traverse right (west) some 500 feet. We disliked having to descend 500 feet to avoid a big cornice 100 feet higher on the ridge, but it was better to do so. Then we traversed nearly horizontally 500 feet into the north face and climbed straight to the ridge.

This detour was the hardest part of the route and was from 75° to 80°. There we joined the true east ridge. The ridge top was easier but required constant belaying because of crevasses, cornices and unstable snow. We bivouacked on the foresummit some 125 feet below the summit. On June 15 the top was reached by Libor Anderle, Zoran Brešlin, Marjan Brišar, Edi Torkar, Jure Žvan and me. Other members of the expedition were Matjaž Deržaj and Dr. Borut Pirc. Because of lack of time and food, we left the fixed ropes in place. Our route was repeated by two Mexicans just after we left the mountain and a few days later by two Spanish and French teams.

Jure Ulcar, Planinska Zveza Slovenije, Yugoslavia

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