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South America, Peru—Cordilleras Huayhuash and Raura, Traverse of the Western Arm of the Cordillera Raura; Ascents of Azuljanca, Pukacalle, Rumiwayin Oeste, Rumiwayin and Yerupaj

Traverse of the Western Arm of the Cordillera Raura; Ascents of Azuljanca, Pukacalle, Rumiwayin Oeste, Rumiwayin and Yerupaj.* Our goal was to traverse the whole western arm of the Cordillera Raura from north to south and to climb the peaks. In 18 days we did so, climbing to five summits, despite one of the rainiest years, which obliged us to finish many descents on ice. We left Lima by bus, heading toward the Raura Mine but left it at the Río Surasaca. On May 8 Michel Vogler, our porter Osvaldo, a movie-cameraman, his friend and I with six donkeys and an arriero got to Base Camp at 15,100 feet on the west of the range near Laguna Cacchi. The cameraman developed pulmonary edema and he and friend had to leave for lower altitudes. This was embarrassing since our objective was filming. However, Vogler undertook the movie camera. After several acclimatization tours, Vogler and I climbed Yerupaj Norte (5675 meters, 18,619 feet) by the northeast ridge from the col between it and Rumiwayin. On the descent we had a cold bivouac between the north and south peaks.

It was obvious we could not carry the movie camera, film and do the traverse. I would climb to the summits and Vogler and Osvaldo would film from afar. On May 16 I rushed along the western slopes of Azuljanca to the northernmost summit, P 5034 and then skied along the crest over the peaks of Azuljanca, Kuajadajanca (5421 meters, 17,785 feet), P 5200, Sillajanca (5247 meters, 17,215 feet), P 5330 and P 5348. I observed the other two as tiny dots on the glacier below. By noon I joined them to picnic in the col between Azuljanca and Pukacalle. Climbing on foot I continued up Pukacalle (5259 meters, 17,254 feet) and traversed to Torre (5100 meters, 16,733 feet). The ski down from just below the summit made me forget I had only cross-country skis. I skied down to the plateau to find Michel and Osvaldo. After a night on the glacier, we all made the ice climb, traversing Rumiwayin Oeste (5348 meters, 17,547 feet) and Rumiwayin (5580 meters, 18,307 feet), descending the rocky southwest ridge with four 40-meter rappels to our food dump. We repeated the snow-and-ice climb of Yerupaj Norte, bivouacked on the col between the two summits and on the fourth day climbed Yerupaj Sur (5685 meters, 18,651 feet). The descent over Yerupaj Chico involved ice flutes, a slope on crampons and a final gorgeous ski. This long first traverse on cross-country skis and with difficult climbing was undertaken to make a film.

Stéphane Schaffter, Mountain Guide, Switzerland

* The names of the peaks in the Cordillera Raura, as elsewhere in Peru are in a great state of confusion between the names which appear on the maps of the Institute Geográfico Nacional and the names used by the local inhabitants. This has further been confused by certain expeditions, such as the Italian expedition of 1968, which gave the peaks Italian climbers’ names, which clearly are not accepted. John Ricker has made a thorough study of the local names during explorations in the region. The Editor has confirmed many of these when he was in the western part of the range. We have used Ricker’s locally used names. The names which appear on the Institute Geográfico Nacional’s Yanahuanca sheet are given here in parentheses: Azuljanca (León Huacanán), Pukacalle (Quesillojanca), Rumiwayin Oeste or Kulí (Matador) and Rumiwayin (Cule).—Editor.