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South America, Peru, Cordillera Central, Nevado Padrecaca, Quepala, Llongote, and Ticlla, Ascents

Nevado Padrecaca, Quepala, Llongote, and Ticlla, Ascents. While Peru is a popular destination, the Cordillera Central is not. Pamela Caswell, Stuart Gallagher, Peter Holden, Ken Mosley, Christopher Woodall, David Wynne-Jones, Ken Findlay and I arrived July 22 and stayed until August 28. According to the journals at the Royal Geographical Society in London, a large 1963 Spanish expedition was the last one to visit the area; the interest our generated by our arrival in Mireflores indicated the lack of visitors that the village gets. Base camp, chosen by Christopher, was just a four-hour mule trek from Mireflores. From base camp, the summit of Ticlla (5897m) could be seen to the north, and Llongote (5780m), also in view, lay a short distance away to the south. Our early exploration of the area, indicated on the Peruvian map (Yauyos 1:100,000 25-1 1969/reprint 1994) as being quite heavily glaciated, was, in fact, rather bare. The glaciers had receded quite a lot and now lay mainly on the high summits or on the southern aspects of the mountains. The covering was about only 50 percent of the area shown on the maps.

We all climbed Nevado Padrecaca (5362m) by its south-southwest face as a training peak. We think this was its first ascent. It was no longer joined to Ticlla by glaciation. All except Ken and I followed a route on the extreme left of the face, using the ridge. Our route varied at the bottom as we ventured into the center of the face to visit an ice cave but then were forced to traverse across to the left as there was no continuous snow/ice route above us.

Peter and Christopher climbed Ticlla by the southwest ridge; Pamela and David followed their route some days later. Peter and Christopher had found the bottom section straightforward, but finding the route through the seracs and crevasses near the top took some time. They completed the mountain in one day with a continuous push from advanced base camp. The other teams preferred to bivy.

Ken and I climbed Quepala via an easy and long ridge that ran north from the summit. The once-glaciated area was now just bare rock and provided easy walking. The only difficulty was in surmounting the final rock summit which, devoid of snow and ice, was composed of loose blocks of various sizes and areas of shattered rock, where extreme care was required.

Stuart, Ken and I started up Ticlla, but after a bivy due to the weather, Stuart opted to return to base. Ken and I continued, reaching the previous day’s high point below the rock and ice cliff, then traversing right under threatening icicles and loose rock bands. After an hour I passed a break in the cliff. One hundred feet farther on, I traversed upward. Slowly we made progress to the base of the main slope. Ken crossed a bergschrund on a soft snow bridge, then surmounted a snow wall and climbed higher up the slope before belaying me up. I worked my way left to a gap where the rock gave way to a continuous snow slope. We made good progress by climbing together, placing protection near the end of each rope length to provide a running belay. Though we did not know it, we were being watched by Peter and Christopher from their route on Llongote. Just as they decided to call it a day on a narrowing rock ridge that quivered as they moved up it, we broke through to the upper half of the slope. The 65° slope had been quite mixed since the first rock band.

We struggled on and were pleased to find the footprints of our friends all around the top. We looked forward to an easy descent by following the footprints, but soon they disappeared in shadow. After a short time of fruitless searching, we decided to continue on, but after an hour, we gave up and bivied. We made it back to advanced camp the next morning. Ken had sustained frostbite on the big toe of his right foot, and five days later rode back down to Mireflores on a horse.

Paul Hudson, United Kingdom