American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru—Cordillera Huayhuash, Jirishanca Norte, North Buttress, Second Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1981

Jirishanca Norte, North Buttress, Second Ascent. Our team was made up of Dietmar Küng, Bernard Hangl, Arnold Larcher, Hannes Connes, Walter Hauser and me. On July 8 Küng, Hangl, Larcher and I completed the second ascent of the north buttress of Jirishanca Norte (6015 meters, 19,733 feet). (First ascent in July, 1964 by Glen Denny, Gary Colliver, Leif-Norman Patterson and Leslie Wilson. See A.A.J., 1965, pp. 275 to 279.—Editor.) After Austrians had failed on the route in 1978, Dr. Fred Pressl and I reconnoitered the route and found a way to approach and get through the difficult Rondoy Glacier. After a bivouac at the foot of the buttress, we climbed to 18,375 feet. The weather turned bad and it took us two days to descend to Mitococha, our Base Camp. We knew we had a good route for 1980. The north buttress is divided into five sections. The bottom 1000 feet are limestone; above is ice with three great ice barriers. Each threatens the route below it. Our last good bivouac spot was at the foot of the buttress. The rock section had no great difficulties but ended in a gully, bombarded by ice and rock. The ice and snow above was for a long way 50° to 60° with occasional breaks in the ice where giant icicles threatened. Overhanging corniced towers forced us to turn them on the steep northeast slope. The crux was the great partially overhanging, 200-foot-high ice wall two-thirds of the way up. We traversed left onto the northeast face. The angle there was 70° to 90° and we managed to get up. The last of our four bivouacs was at 19,000 feet. We were surprised to find the summit slope was a 70° to 80° fluted wall. This last problem took three hours. Two days later, when Condin and I completed what may have been the first ascent of P 5172 (16,968 feet), north of Ninashanca, our companions watched our route on Jirishanca being swept with a huge ice avalanche.

Erich Gatt, Club Montana, Austria

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