American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru?Cordillera Huayhuash, A Sendero Luminoso Visit to a Canadian Base Camp

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1989

A Sendero Luminoso Visit to a Canadian Base Camp. At five A.M. on July 29, our Base Camp at Jahuacocha was alarmed by the blast of a grenade! We were victims of a Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrilla visitation. The guerrillas had word that two policemen were associated with our expedition. This was not the case, but two policemen, dressed in typical peasant clothing were rounded up with all the others in the vicinity of our camp. During the first few minutes of our interrogation by the guerrillas, their leader was shot at point blank range in the groin. The crossfire lasted some four minutes and ended with the two police fleeing down the valley. That left our expedition unprotected. The wounded guerrilla leader told me at gunpoint to administer first aid to his two critically injured comrades. One man had been shot twice in the leg and in the stomach. A bullet had exited his back, near the kidney. Another had been shot through his knee and upper leg. A bullet had hit the leader’s testicles and passed within millimeters of his femoral artery and exited his right butt cheek. As first aid was being administered, three other guerrillas, one a woman of about 16 years, guarded the team. After two hours, the six guerrillas left our Base Camp with two horses to carry the wounded. The leader thanked me for our generous donation (?) of food, cigarettes and two watches as well as the help we had given them in first aid! Over ten shots had been fired into our group of eight persons. One bullet passed between the heads of two of our members. Our Peruvian staff of three was threatened with their lives and would be executed if the guerrillas saw them again with “gringo capitalists” in the future. Ten hours after the guerrillas had left, eight policemen rode into our camp armed with automatic weapons and the next day others arrived. Several hours later they returned with a body, covered with a poncho and draped over a horse. This was the man with the leg and stomach wound. He had been a biology professor at San Marcos University in Lima. A few days after this event, the Huayhuash area was closed to climbers and trekkers by the Chiquián police.

Shaun Parent, Alpine Club of Canada

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