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South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Pirámide Garcilaso, Southwest Face, New Route

Pirámide Garcilaso, Southwest Face, New Route. On August 26, Brett Wolf of Gardiner, NY, and Andy Clarke of Glasgow, Scotland, climbed a new route on the southwest face of Pirámide Garcilaso (5885 m). Previously the only route on the southwest face was one climbed in 1979 by Dick Renshaw (U.K.).

The month had seen a pattern of predominantly heavy clouds (snow) pouring in from the Amazon Basin every morning, usually accompanied by high winds. We looked up our couloir and thought we saw good ice over rock. It turned out to be a sugary veneer over mostly sloping rock. Clarke compared the pitches to those of Scottish routes: 85 degrees mixed, one to two centimeters of ice, and atmospheric snow. Crux pitches barely supported the leader; they crumbled away when followed. Ice screws were useless; we employed some occasional pegs, and a snow stake for the illusion of a belay. The last pitch was slashing and tunneling through chimney gargoyles of snow to gain the upper quarter of the west ridge. On the descent, after the first rappel, a storm opened up. Conditions got real bad. The pair spent a long (14 hours) night in bivy sacks, then waited for the sun to thaw them out the next day. The route was named Change of the Moon Couloir (400m TD+) after a local kept telling the duo, “I think the weather will change with the moon.”

Brett Wolf, unaffiliated