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South America, Peru, Cordillera Huayhaush, Sarapo, Northwest Face

Sarapo, Northwest Face. A few brief moments under the west face of Siulá convinced Tom Sisson and me that we did not want to play Russian Roulette with our lives on that face. The snow-and-ice northwest face of Sarapo, a short way up the glacier, seemed fairly trivial in comparison. The best line would avoid the ice cliffs on one side and some rotten rock sections on the other. Though it looked short, it turned out to be one bivouac and 1500 feet to the ridge. There were interesting corniced and fluted sections on the ridge, but after that it was quite easy. Soft snow on the last 400 feet made the final section a tiring and time- consuming wallow. A windy bivouac near the summit and, in the morning, a spectacular view of the southern Huayhuash were our reward. We retraced our steps, at least knowing where they went in contrast to unending corniced ridges, that seemed to be the alternatives. One bivouac and several ice bollard rappels eventually returned us to the glacier. Our route differs from the Italians’ by starting up the northwest face before joining the ridge they followed up from Sarapococha. We found much evidence of their fixed line on the corniced ridge section soon after we joined the ridge.

Roger Gocking