South America, Colombia, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Publication Year: 1980.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. During July Jim LaRue, Jan Olsen and I guided Jeff Blaser, Frank and Marshall Farmer and Colin Steele into the range from San Sebastián. Two other clients dropped out en route to Lago Naboba with altitude problems. After a week of training on Pico Tairona and the glacier northwest of El Guardián, we climbed Picos Cristóbal Colón and Ojeda, and La Reina by its northwest ridge. Weather and softening snow turned us back just below the summit of Simón Bolívar, and fortunately so. Minutes after scurrying through a huge moat beneath the eastern cliffs of the south ridge, we watched as it was swept by refrigerator-sized blocks which totally obliterated our track. The place is prominently marked by the grave of a German guide, Edi Nürnberger, killed there, according to the Indians, some months earlier. A bad spot! The Indians in San Sebastián demanded tribute of 500 pesos ($12.50) each, but in the high country we found them friendly and helpful. The climbing was alpine rather than Andean, with all routes done in one day from camps on bare ground at between 16,000 and 17,000 feet.

Vincent R. Lee

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