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South America, Peru, Colque Cruz V and Other Peaks, Cordillera Vilcanota

Colque Cruz V and Other Peaks, Cordillera Vilcanota. Our expedition was composed of Jon Morgan, James Hall, Charles Halstead, Tim Dickinson and me as leader. In Malma we hired eight horses for the 16-kilometer trek to our 4825-meter-high Base Camp. On July 15, we established a bivouac site at 5050 meters on the glacier below Chuchillo and Kiru. The following day, we all made the second ascent of Kiru (5700 meters, 18,701 feet) by the north ridge. On July 17, we attempted Chuchillo but turned back at 5500 meters because of avalanche danger and altitude problems. On July 21, we all plodded up to 5520 meters on the northeast face of Colque Cruz IV and dug a snow hole. The next day, we climbed up and over a spur coming down from Colque Cruz IV, but only Dickinson and Hall carried on. They climbed up steep ground to reach the col between Colque Cruz V and VI, having bivouacked on the face. After a third bivouac on the 5800-meter col, they attempted the southeast ridge of Colque Cruz V. Poor conditions, cornices and snow mushrooms forced them back. On July 25, Morgan and I set off from Base Camp to climb Colque Cruz VI by its northeast face, a new direct line. Initially it was up relatively easy rock, ice and snow. The final 100 meters were 70° to 90° ice flutings to the summit (5980 meters, 19,620 feet). We reached the top two hours after sunset and had seven unenviable hours abseiling to a 5300-meter bivouac on the glacier. On July 28, we five set off for a second attempt on unclimbed Colque Cruz V. We bivouacked at 5300 meters on the glacier below the north face. The next day, we made good progress up fairly easy snow to a rock band that proved to be the crux. A short pitch of difficult rock led to a rock gully system that allowed us to reach the final 50 meters of steep ice before the ridge. From there it was a 20-meter wallow through powder snow to the summit (5965 meters, 19,570 feet). We got to the top at sundown and had five hours of exhausting abseiling to reach the bivouac site. Morgan and I made an attempt on Colque Cruz I and II but were turned back at 5650 meters by heavy snow at the start of a three-day storm.

Simon Cooke, Sheffield University Mountaineering Club, England