American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru—Cordillera Occidental, Cerro Mismi and Other Peaks, Ancient and Modern Ascents

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

Cerro Mismi and Other Peaks, Ancient and Modern Ascents. During 1977 I ascended several volcanoes in southern Peru and found on their summits traces of Inca occupancy. On Mismi (5596 meters, 18,360 feet), at the extreme southeast end of the Chila range, I made two separate ascents: first, alone, in May 1977, when I found a length of plaited rope and high quality weaving; then, with my son Douglas and a young Canadian Mark Burke in August 1977, when more rope and weaving, together with some finer material like muslin cloth, a jade bead and a small gold female figure, with typical plaited hair of the Inca style, were found. All this material was handed to the Museo Nacional de Arqueología in Lima. Australian Paul Rose and I made the second recorded ascent of Cerro Huarancante, a summit of about 5360 meters (17,586 feet), located about 140 kilometers from Arequipa, in October 1977. We found traces of four separate fires. Nothing else was found, but the fires were clearly very old and not lit by the man who did the “first” ascent in 1966 (the Canadian Dick Culbert). The third is a third-hand report. Two Italians were climbing the “Pagoda” peak in the Hualca Hualca massif, about 190 kilometers from Arequipa. Between 5700 and 5800 meters (19,000 feet), on one of a number of fairly difficult pitches, as they were banging in a piton, they noticed there were already two wooden pegs in the crack. There is no record of a previous ascent of the Pagoda. The Italians came away with a high respect for the technical ability of the earlier climber or climbers. Inca? Or not?

Peter Ross, South Africa

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