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Huascaran Norte, Attempt and Tragedy

Huascaran Norte, Attempt and Tragedy. On July 12, Peruvian mountain guide Marco Perez and Duncan Elliot, a South African mountaineer, left Huaraz to climb the north face of Huascaran Norte (6654m). The chosen route for the climb was the Paragot Route, established by a French team in 1966. In reality, however, their climb turned out to be a combination of the French route and the Northwest Ridge, climbed by an Italian team in 1974.

On the evening of July 17, Perez and Elliot were surprised by an avalanche just one pitch below the Northwest Ridge at about 6400 meters, from where the summit could be reached easily. Perez was hit by blocks of ice, and Elliot was severely injured by a serac that hit him on the back. They fortunately had cellular phone coverage and were able to call for help immediately. This triggered a huge rescue effort that involved many people and institutions. However, despite hard and coordinated work, the stricken party could only be reached on July 20, unfortunately too late for Elliot, who had died the day before. Perez, weak and dehydrated, was hauled off the wall and brought back down to safety. Elliot’s remains were left on the mountain per the wish of his family, who had been contacted in South Africa. Two weeks later, Perez returned to Huaraz with Elliot’s brother to leave a plaque near the mountain with an epitaph in memory of Duncan Elliot.

Antonio Gómez Bohórquez, Spain