American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Bolivia, Araca Group, Northern Quimsa Cruz

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1992

Araca Group, Northern Quimsa Cruz. From June 16 to 27, our party of six climbed in the Araca group, a forest of granite towers of exceptional beauty that I had first visited in 1967. Gregory Johnson, Virginia Louise Porter and Scott Titteringham flew down from the United States and joined Juan Pablo Ando, Douglas Daken Cook and me, residents of Bolivia. In various combinations, we did a half dozen climbs, generally short and hard. The most spectacular was the Cristal, a needle hardly 40 meters high and perhaps six wide. On aid, Tittering- ham and Johnson placed six solid bolts on the first short pitch. Then Ginger Porter, our best rock climber, finished it, accumulating air time trying to redpoint it. She expects it all to go at 5.11 ; I think it may prove harder. The climb was repeated by Swiss later in the year. (See below.) Before we turned to the Cristal, Cook and Ando climbed the west ridge of a big rock peak while Porter and Johnson did its north face via a chimney system which ended in a difficult slot as night fell and a windstorm flattened our Base Camp. The “big rock peak” is the southernmost of the granite summits forming the cirque enclosing theusual Base Camp. Then come the Block Tower, Handsome Splinter and Cristal (in that order, south to north.) While our friends rested the following day, Titteringham led me up another small classic on one of the unnamed rock towers cluttering the ridgelines. Cook, Ando, Porter and I then turned our attention to Handsome Splinter, left of the Cristal. Overcome with nostalgia for the old days, I hammered and friended an A2 start directly out of the Cristal-Handsome Splinter notch, while Cook and Ando found the modem alternative, a bomb-bay layback around the comer. Porter and Ando finished the climb the next day. Cook and Ando later did a third pinnacle, the second to the right from the Cristal. One expects the Cristal and its neighbors, as well as the fine routes done by the few earlier parties in the region, to become popular. They are short, hard, spectacular climbs, easy of access once you set up Base Camp. We do not recommend June for the days are cold and short. Try August or September. Later Cook and I did yet another route—my 14th—on Charquini. A huge amount of snow and ice has disappeared since my last visit to this group eleven years ago. The Bolivian glaciers are just withering away.

Stanley S. Shepard

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