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South America, Peru—Other Ranges, Kikash, Huaman Hueque Group, Cordillera Huallanca, 1984 and 1986

Kikash, Huaman Hueque Group, Cordillera Huallanca, 1984 and 1986. In the Río Pativilca valley between the Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash is the little town of Aquia. Immediately to the east lies the Huaman Hueque group, a relatively virgin area. (Domingos Giobbi climbed farther to the north in 1968.) The group is dominated by a peak of 5338 meters (17,514 feet), referred to locally as Nevado Kikash, although the Kinzl-Schneider map calls it Pampash. Michael Stewart and I went into the area in July 1984 and, on a bad steer from a campesino, approached the peak from the southwest. On our first attempt we thrashed through an obstacle course of crags; our second attempt, further up the valley, was equally unsuccessful when we found ourselves confronted with steep slabs of wet rock. The third attempt got us past the ridge, but circling to the left of a rock buttress, we discovered another valley stretching out before us that we hadn’t even known was there. The mountain was not the cone it had appeared from the distance but more like an unlucky horseshoe. We were well out to the side, blocked with insufficient rock gear by a buttress. Foiled again! We tried again, this time up a snow spur on the center right side of the valley and onto a hanging glacier. It went! We climbed up the glacier to the crest and then along 500 feet of knife-edged snow and ice to the summit tower, a single pitch of high-angle mixed climbing. We got to the top of the western of two pinnacles. The other one was 50 feet away and 15 feet higher. We didn’t have the time or rock equipment to climb it. In the last weekend of August, I came back with Daniel Maldonado. We went into the Huaman Hueque valley and found an easier route onto the upper part of the mountain. The summit pyramid looked even more formidable, but looks were deceiving; we were able to reach the summit after half a pitch of exposed class 3. In 1986 Michael and I went back to the Huaman Hueque with John Dupuy and Chuck Watson. We followed the prominent trail that turned east over the pass into the next valley, crossed the scree slopes at its head and climbed the highest peak just south of the pass.

Douglas Rick, Unaffiliated