American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Aguja Nevada III, South Face and Ranrapalca, Southwest Face

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

Aguja Nevada III, South Face and Ranrapalca, Southwest Face. On July 7 Alex MacIntyre and I set off to do the south face of the Nevado de Carás I only to discover the successful pair returning. We changed our objective to the south face of the Aguja Nevado III (5720 meters or 18,767 feet), which lies between Carás I and Aguja Nevado II. We underestimated the length and difficulty of the climb, which we thought would take a day; we carried no sleeping bags or stove. We got soaked to the skin shoveling through unconsolidated snow and moving from one flute to the next. We now believe the horror tales of Andean south slopes. The result was a very cold bivouac. We eventually passed the tilting mushrooms on steep rock. Alex shoveled a channel to the summit. We descended the southwest face, luckily with better conditions. On July 20 we started up the right side of the southwest face of Ranrapalca after a night near the top of the glacier. The face has steep rock capped by séracs on the right and a half-mile-long wall of ice and séracs on the left. We climbed unroped diagonally across the face, trying to stay ahead of the sunlight, which began to bring rockfall down from above as it moved onto the western side of the face. We reached the center of the face beneath a leaning tower by mid-afternoon. We climbed the rest of the day roped and bivouacked on top of the tower. The ice was as hard and black as any we had ever climbed on. We had a nerve- racking morning maneuvering through séracs and towers to reach the summit plateau at midday. We chose the west ridge for our descent, which proved as exciting as the ascent. It really was a broad glacier cut off at altitude by steep faces on either side. We reached the base of the mountain late on the 22nd.

John Porter

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