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South America, Peru, Alpamayo Attempt, P 5600, Artesonraju Attempt, Millisharaju

Alpamayo Attempt, P 5600, Artesonraju Attempt, Millishraju. Supy Bullard and I made an early season trip to the Cordillera Blanca April 22 -June 6. On May 3 we started climbing up from the lowest point of the bergschrund on Alpamayo's southwest face, a route I had soloed in 1988. We found the going a bit creepy alongside a 35-meter-thick chunk of ice the size of a city block that occupied the normal start of the French Route and appeared unstable. We dubbed it the "Big Ugly." We retreated in deteriorating weather after two 60-meter pitches when it became evident that the ice gully we were in would not suitably join up with that of the upper French Route. We then attempted P 5600, the bump on Kitoraju's northeast ridge closest to the col, by the northwest face. By May 11 we were comfortably established at about 5150 meters. On May 12 we awoke and crunched out of camp by headlamp at 4:40 a.m. We simul-climbed over 180 meters before we started belayed climbing. I led along the right edge on good ice for 120 meters onto steeper 75° to 80° ice, where we reached the junction of our route which led up over mixed rock and ice angling to the right. Including the 180 meters below the rock corner, we had climbed 860 meters in 13 hours and were on the west ridge at about 5875 meters, probably about 150 meters shy of the summit. The next day we decided that completing the climb of the northwest face had been enough. We descended our line of ascent in seven hours. From our high camp and bivy on Artesonraju, we were able to see that the "Big Ugly" had cut loose and detached itself from the face, further altering the French route. On May 26 and 27, we ascended the gentle East Ridge of Millishraju Norte. We arrived back in Huaráz at the end of the month, spent a few days there, a day in Lima, and left Peru on June 6.

Peter Carse