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South America, Bolivia, Cordillera Apolobamba, Various Ranges, Various Activity

Various Ranges, Various Activity. Luke Aspinall, Toby Johnson, John Marsham and I planned a three-month expedition to Bolivia, with the intention of climbing in the Cordilleras Apolobamba, Real and Quimsa Cruz. However, things very rarely go to plan.

After establishing ourselves at the usual Condoriri Base Camp on July 8, we ascended Pequeño Alpamayo (normal route), Illusion (normal route), Ala Izquierda (west to east traverse) and attempted the southwest face of Piramide Blanca. On approaching Cabeza de Condor, I was hit by rockfall, which resulted in a severe skull fracture and a two-week stay in the hospital before returning home with Toby. Luke stayed in La Paz working, while John climbed with non-expedition members for the remaining two months.

On August 28, John, Sam Maffett (Australia) and Gina Tent (U.K.) took the bus to Pelechuco in the Apolobamba and set up BC east of Chapui Orco (6044m). Over two days, they climbed two peaks on the ridge extending east from Chapul Oreo Norte (PD and D-). They then failed to climb Chapul Orco by its east ridge due to poor snow. After moving BC to the lake shore on the west side of Chapul Orco, “Flora de Roca” was attempted by its south ridge; the party came within 15 meters of the summit. Finally, Chapui Orco was climbed by the west ridge (PD).

All these routes with the exception of “Flora de Roca” were probably new routes, but only Chapul Orco is a peak large enough to be marked on the Paul Hudson map. It should be noted, however, that there is a color topographical map of the Apolobamba, though the IGM insisted it either did not exist or was not available.

On August 21, John and Sam set up a high camp at the foot of Pico Schulz and ascended it by the southeast ridge. The following day they climbed Illampu by the Southwest Face route and Huayna Illampu by the Northeast Ridge. With unseasonable snowfall during mid-September that made rock climbing almost impossible in the Quimsa Cruz, John and Dana Witzel (Canada) managed to climb nothing in these splendid Aiguilles.

Mark Crampton, Edinburgh University Mountaineering Club