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South America, Bolivia, Cordillera Real, Various Ascents

Cordillera Real, Various Ascents. In May and June, on an expedition to Bolivia, several country first ascents were achieved. They included: the first American and U.K. ascent of Janco Laya (5545m), May 22. The (possible) first American and UK ascent of the northwest ridge of Ancohuma (6427m), June 1. Team members were Yossi Brain (U.K., currently residing in La Paz), William W. Fox (U.K.), Karl Wolf (U.S.).

Our access to Janq u Laya was helped by a new road running past the Caracota lake and over the Paso Mulla. Via the new road, the team was able to get to within 45 minutes of base camp by jeep. We camped at the foot of the southeast face on May 21 and departed for the climb at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. Following the normal route established by a Japanese team in 1970, we accessed the glacier at 7:30 a.m. The first pitch consisted of moderate blue glacier ice. Once upon the glacier, the climb was relatively easy with no protection required. The team summitted at 1:30 p.m. and was surprised to find that the summit consisted of a three-meter-high rock hanging over a 200-meter drop-off. We returned to base camp by 4:30 and returned to La Paz on May 24.

We approached Janq’uma from the village of Sorata, reaching Glacier Lake at 5000 meters on Day 2. Day 3 we traveled west, following the edge of the glacier to the north. After four hours, we accessed the glacier and climbed to 5800 meters for our high camp. The camp was placed just below a large plateau at the base of the main summit pyramid. On Day 4, we departed camp at 3:30 a.m. and spent an hour approaching the summit pyramid. The first section consisted of a moderate climb of three or four pitches up a sustained 40-degree slope. At the top of the slope, we traversed left about 100 meters until the enormous east face came into view. Here, we worked up three or four pitches following the north ridge of the east face. This section consisted of 50- to 55-degree climbing. After 150-200 meters, the summit dome was in view and the final stretch was merely a long walk to the well-rounded, broad summit. We reached the top at about 11:30 a.m. For our descent, we opted to follow the west ridge down about 150 meters, where we then proceeded to rappel/downclimb the north face. This section was a steep 70 degrees; we used a combination of downclimbing and rappelling. The bottom of the north face provided access to the glacier plateau at 6000 meters that led to our high camp. In total, the round trip from Sorata took six days.

William Fox, United Kingdom