American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Colombia, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, New Routes

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, New Routes. In January a group of six climbed in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Our leader, George Montopoli, had been in the area three previous times and knew the mechanics. His friendship with the people of San Sebastián proved an invaluable aid. The other members were Jim Roscoe, Norm Larson, Keith Hadley, Paddy O’Brien and I. We were appalled to find garbage at the more popular campsites. We could only assume that the German party that left as we arrived was responsible as they were the only other party in the area prior to our arrival and the litter was definitely fresh. We did the following routes: Tairona (16,404 feet) via north face by Montopoli. He climbed the very steep (75°) rock buttress west of the main talus slope that descends from the north-face glacier. After 1500 feet (some F7), he traversed horizontally east to the low point of the glacier, which he ascended directly to the headwall. This he climbed on a 40-foot vertical rock pitch. A final 500 feet of snow, rock and ice led to the summit. NCCS III or IV, F7; La Reina (18,158 feet) via southwest face by Hadley, Montopoli. They climbed moderately difficult rock to the west corner of the glacier at the center of the face and diagonaled up and right to the icefield above. They climbed 500 feet of moderate ice to a second large icefield which they ascended to its top on the southwest spur. They climbed the spur up rock and several other icefields to the summit plateau, El Guardián (17,343 feet) via north face by Montopoli, Hadley, and later by Larson, Roscoe. They climbed the glacier below the northwest face up and left toward a prominent couloir that leads to the north face proper, up 100 feet of the north ridge and left to the base of the final face. They ascended straight to the summit via 60° to 70° snow and ice for 1000 feet. NCCS IV; El Guardián via northwest face by Roscoe, Larson. They began in the center of the face in an ice-filled chimney. For two rope-lengths they diagonaled to the right (west) to a prominent snow rib. Another pitch back and up put them near a cat-walk ledge. They rounded the cat-walk to the center of the upper face. They then climbed five pitches of mixed ice and rock. NCCS IV, F8; Pico Ojeda (18,012 feet). Larson and Roscoe climbed the second gully from the western edge of the northwest face, which after difficult rock was water-ice for seven pitches. They finished on snow-covered rock for two pitches to get to the southwest ridge. NCCS IV; Tairona via northwest ridge by Givler, Hadley, O’Brien. NCCS II, F5. Pico Colón (18,947 feet) via east ridge by Givler, Hadley, Montopoli on mixed snow and rock up to F6.

Linda Givler

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