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South America, Peru—Cordillera Blanca, Pucaranra West Face

Pucaranra West Face. Several days of perfect weather were not enough to stabilize the snow at the base of Palcaraju and so Thor Kieser and I decided to try a line of the west face of Pucaranra across the Quebrada Cojup. There were several interesting lines that seemed as if they could avoid the overhanging ice blocks in the upper section of the face, especially steep ice couloirs on the north side of the face close to the ridge that connects Pucaranra and Palcaraju. We spent several hours on the afternoon of July 13 searching for the best route across the glacier. The next morning we left with rather heavy packs. The first section lay up an obvious avalanche chute that had us puffing to get to the safety of the bergschrund. Once above that obstacle, the face got significantly steeper. We came to the rock bands and had little difficulty with them. In the main couloir above, the angle steepened to 70° in places and the ice got harder. By midday the ice had begun to run water and ice screws were little more than a psychological protection. Finally at three P.M. we sighted a convenient cave at the top of the couloir and settled down for a long, cold night. On July 15 we continued to the top with a few exciting moments, such as dodging falling ice and crossing precarious snow bridges. We descended to the cave for a second bivouac and returned to Base Camp the following day. This line seems to be the same one that Spaniards were unable to complete in 1980 and may have been subsequently climbed by Poles in 1985.

Roger Gocking