American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Illampu, West Spur

Bolivia, Cordillera Real

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Jordi Magriña
  • Climb Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 1979

Our expedition was composed of Sebastia Figuerola, Francesc Magriñá, Enric Dalmau, Oscar Cadiac, Joan Roig, Xavier Azagra, Pere Benaiges, Alex Osso, Josep María Monserrat and me as leader. While we were waiting for our equipment to arrive and be cleared through customs, we left on July 14 for Huayna Potosí. We camped at 16,400 feet near the Zongo dam. On July 15 we all headed for the summit by the normal route but three were unable to reach the top for lack of acclimatization. On July 25 we drove by truck to Sorata at 9000 feet and the next day to Ancoma by a smaller truck, which was needed to manage the narrow, rough, curving road. We left Ancoma on July 27 with 22 porters and three mules for Base Camp at Aguas Calientes (15,100 feet), in a narrow valley southwest of Ancoma below the slopes of Laramcota. We crossed from our valley south over a ridge to a snow- field on the eastern foot of Pico Schulze and camped at 16,700 feet. Four of us, my brother Francesc, Dalmau, Benaiges and I, made a new route on the spur of the west face that leads to the 6310-meter foresummit of the main peak of Illampu. It was mixed climbing on a 60° slope for a 4000-foot rise. The actual climb took three days. We started up steep snow about 300 yards south of the end of the spur and gained 1000 feet to reach rock of UIAA Class IV difficulty. This gave access to a second steep snow patch, above which we bivouacked. The second day began with steep, difficult mixed climbing. We next ascended a 65° couloir, where rockfall threatened. From the top of the couloir we climbed some 650 feet diagonally left to the final crest of the spur. We bivouacked just before getting to this crest. On August 4 we climbed the ridge to the 6310-meter (20,702-foot) foresummit and from there spent four hours on the last of the ridge between the Pico del Norte and the main summit of Illampu (20,872 feet). The corniced ridge was not stable and belaying was difficult. We descended the southwest ridge, which runs to the Pico Schulze, and then the north face. Figuerola, Cardiach, Osso and Roig ascended this route. They moved up the snowfield to a 1650-foot ice slope which took them to the col between Illampu and Pico Schulze, where they bivouacked at 17,700 feet. They followed the southwest ridge to the summit, which they also reached on August 4. This route had been descended in 1971 by Germans. (A.A.J., 1973, p. 470.)

Jordi Magriña, AAEEMI, Spain

Editor's note: A report correcting some elements of this account can be found here.

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