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South America, Peru—Cordillera Blanca, Quitaraju, Alpamayo, Chacraraju Este

Quitaraju, Alpamayo, Chacraraju Este. After our climbing in the Cordillera Huayhuash (see that section), Bas Grenigt had recovered considerably and together on July 14 we climbed the north face of Quitaraju. On the 17th we ascended Alpamayo’s southwest face, a fantastic climb up and down tottering flutes and fragile cornices. We were so enthusiastic that two French and two Americans decided to follow our route. In the following week we heard the tragic news that the French had fallen to their deaths. Our main objective was Chacraraju Este by its south face. There have been three successful ascents of the peak, two by different south-face routes. Ours followed essentially the same line as Jaeger’s in 1978 but near the top we kept straight up and he bore right to emerge from the face directly onto the summit. We started the climb on July 26 despite my upset stomach, which had been bothering me for some days; it improved as we climbed. Bas led and we reached 17,225 feet and bivouacked in an ice cave. We were surrounded by shaky flutes and gigantic sérac walls; the summit cornices hung over us 2500 feet higher. The next morning the difficulties increased quickly and we soon got to the first vertical ice walls. The ice was excellent. We reached the snow- field and set up our second bivouac at 18,375 feet early in the afternoon. It took three hours to chip out an ice cave. Unfortunately Grenigt dropped his sleeping bag and spent a miserably cold night. In the morning we climbed the fishbone-like ribs of the wall. Initially the formations were 10 meters wide but toward the top they were less than a meter wide. We climbed mostly between the fragile flutes, hoping the ice blocks would not crash down. Getting onto the summit was risky. Vertical ice blocked the route on all sides. It took two hours of hard work to dig away the overhanging obstacles. We made the descent by 250-foot rappels on a 5-mm rope. In less than two hours, just before dark, we were back at our bivouac hole. On August 7, I ascended Huascarán and descended to the Garganta on skis.

Ronald Naar, Konigklijke Nederlandsche Alpenvereniging