American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

From Vinowara to Jallawaya, An Etymological Exploration

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  • Publication Year: 1996

From Vinowara to Jallawaya

An Etymological Exploration

by Liam P. O’Brien

The Vinowara region of the Cordillera Real of Bolivia begins at the 5200-meter Chachakumani Pass located just south of the Chachakumani massif. The range then continues southeast for 12 kilometers before ending at the Jichuquta valley floor. In this area there are more than 50 peaks over 5000 meters, but not one 6000-meter mountain. Because of this, most expeditions pass the area up when in Bolivia. In fact, only a handful of expeditions have entered the Vinowara region at all.

In October the brothers Gregorio and Juan Amman (Club Andino Bolivian) and I climbed the highest mountain in the Vinowara group, which is located three and a half kilometers southeast of Chachakumani Pass on the Bolivian Military Geographic Institute's (IGM) 1:50,000 scale map "Lago Khara Kkota." As the name Vinowara is not attached to any peak on the IGM map, and the peak we climbed was the highest in the area at 5660 meters, we assumed that we must have climbed Vinowara. Further research into the name of the mountain led to an unexpected discovery.

Two groups claim to have climbed Vinowara. The first group was the 1928 DOAV Austrian expedition led by Hans Pfann. The expedition succeeded in scaling three 6000-meter mountains in the Cordillera Real and a few lesser ones, including "Vinohurara," the highest in the area. They approached from the east, along the Amawaya River. The expedition map, produced by Carl Troll and Erwin Hein, is a superb piece of cartography that continues to influence the mapping of the Cordillera Real to this day. Their map locates the mountain Vinowara south of Chachakumani and north of the Jichuquta valley, but at too small a scale (I thought) to accurately pinpoint the peak.

The second group to enter the area was the 1964 Alpine Club of Tokyo University expedition. This group entered the area from the west side of the watershed and placed their basecamp at the headwaters of the' Chachakumani River. They claimed first ascent of "Vinohuara I and II" and "Hailliquaya (Jallawaya) I, II and III." Both of these names do not appear on the IGM map.

By relating the Austrian and Japanese expedition reports to the IGM maps it became clear that the two groups were referring to two different mountains. Where was Vinowara? Further research turned up many references to Vinowara (also spelled “Vinohuara,” “Vinohurara,” “Vinuara” and “Winuarra”). A few of the most interesting references are listed below.

The 1959 Alpine Journal article “The Cordillera Real” by Evelio Echevarria contains a map that shows Vinohuara southeast of Chachakumani in a position close the Japanese “Jallawaya.” In the 1977 book The Southern Cordillera Real, Pecher and Schmieman list “Vinohuara” as a “5000 meter peak in the Northern Cordillera Real — rarely climbed because the approach is complicated.” Their sketch map shows the peak as falling between Chachakumani and the peak Yanqu Uyu. In The Cordillera Real de Los Andes (1984), Alain Mesili refers to Vinohuara I and II,” to the “Vinohuara massif,” and to the “Vinhuara group.” The 1993 Encyclopedia Bolivia Magica, edited by Hug Boero Rojo, states that the “Grupo Winuarra" contains 16 mountains over 5000 meters, and lists 11 of these — but fails to list Vinowara the mountain.

In Mountaineering in the Andes (1994), Jill Neate shows the mountain “Vinohuara” on a sketch map, mentions the "lower but important section headed by Vinohuara," and lists the first ascent of the Japanese “Vinohuara II” as belonging to the 1928 Austrian expedition.

To try and make sense out of this I first plotted the peaks climbed by the Japanese. They state: "The ridge of peaks sweeps southeast from Chachacomani over the Chachacomani Pass. From there the summits encircle the Vinohuara glacier and are in order Vinohuara I and II, Peaks 5791 and 5812. The ridge then swings southwest to Hailliguaya I and then west over Hailliguayas II, III, IV an V, before it ends east of basecamp." Their base- camp was located south of Chachakumani (AAJ 1965, pg. 454).

The map accompanying this article is of the Vinowara area. It is taken from the IGM maps with my additions and spelling corrections. It is obvious from the Japanese description that they climbed Imacina West and the unnamed peak one kilometer southeast of it and called these Vinohuara I and II. They then climbed the two prominent ridge peaks and three summits of Jallawaya. (The river beginning at the southern base of the mountain Jallaway is named “Jayllahuaya” on the IGM map).

It thus appears that the Japanese got the names wrong for the Vinohuara mountains and right for the Jallawayas. (It is also worth mentioning that the heights the Japanese give for these mountains are up to 270 meters higher than the IGM heights.) Jallawaya is also the highest mountain in the area — which fact contributes to the confusion with the Austrians, who stated they had climbed the highest in the area (Vinohuara).

Where was the “Vinohuara” of the Austrians? I blew up the Troll and Hein map to approximately 1:50,000 scale and overlaid it on the IGM map. To my surprise they fit almost perfectly, which is remarkable considering the difference in mapping methods employed in their elaboration. The Austrian “Vinowara” falls directly over the Jisk’a Pata mountain (5508 meters) on the

IGM map. The Austrian “Vinowara” is Jisk’a Pata. Further corroboration of this comes from the fact that the Austrians approached the climb from the southeast, where they established basecamp on a marshy plain named Vinuara on the IGM map. From this plain Jisk’a Pata indeed appears as the highest point on the main ridge (although farther south along the ridge the mountain Janq’u Uyu is actually four meters higher, at 5512 meters).

So what do we find from all this?

Jisk’a Pata is the Austrian “Vinowara,” first climbed by the DOAV expedition of 1928.

The Japanese “Vinowara 1” is Imacina West, with “Vinowara II” unnamed and located one kilometer to its southeast. Both were first climbed by the Japanese in 1964.

Jallawaya, at 5660 meters, is the highest mountain in the area and was first climbed by the Japanese in 1964.

Most of the folks referring to Vinowara over the past 67 years since the publication of the Troll and Hein map have been referring to Jallawaya. The name Vinowara, if pertaining to a mountain, is no longer in use. Based on the following points, and by following the convention of naming a group of mountains after the highest mountain in the group, I suggest that this group of mountains be called the Jallawaya group.

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