AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Paron Valley, La Esfinge, Intuition, New Route

La Esfinge, Intuition, New Route. After paying our dues with the requisite Peruvian stomach funk, my partner, Taki Miyamoto, and I headed into the Paron Valley, in the northern section of the Cordillera Blanca. What would be a leisurely two-hour hike for the acclimatized and porter-assisted took us fools, bent over by obscenely large haulbags, all day and then some to recover from.

Rising to 17,466 feet out of the Huandoy massif, the 2,000- to 2,500-foot walls of La Esfinge offer extraordinary climbing on impeccable granite in an exposed alpine setting. This year, La Esfinge’s base camp resembled an alpine Camp 4, complete with slack line, an in-house bouldering circuit, and diverse languages and accents.

Our route, Intuition (8 X, 10 R, 12c, 11 R, 11+, 12a, 10+, 10, 9, 7) takes an extremely direct line up the clean, steep left side of the east face. Connecting discontinuous cracks, the climbing is most often balance-intensive face climbing on small holds. Blessed with the typically incredible Blanca weather, the climb unfolded smoothly, and the quality of rock and free climbing we encountered was impeccable. Every pitch is long and fun. The protection is often tricky and sparse: a fall on any of the pitches could result in some big air, but due to the clean, steep, ledgeless nature of the rock, all of the climbing can be considered safe. We used bolts for most belays and on some of the pitches, and all were placed on lead, by hand. It is a route we hope other climbers will enjoy repeating.

Taki and I had an incredible experience amidst the power of the Cordillera Blanca and want to give our sincere thanks to the American Alpine Club for the support.

David Sharratt*, unaffiliated

*Recipient of an AAC Mountaineering Fellowship Fund award