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South America, Bolivia, Cordillera Quimsa Cruz, Taruca Umana Valley and Cerro Auchuma, Various New Routes

Taruca Umana Valley and Cerro Auchuma, Various New Routes. Based on a conversation with Sue Savege, we decided to concentrate on further exploration of the Taruca Umana valleys and of the unexplored Cerro Achuma and Cerro Jankho Willkhi ranges. We were in Bolivia for the whole of August. The team, mostly from Wales (Cymru), comprised Mike Rosser, John James, Wayne Gladwin, Sharon Abbott, Paul Westwood, and Brian Cummins (expedition doctor).

After a few days in La Paz acclimatizing and buying food, we traveled in two jeeps to the Quimsa Cruz area. We eventually arrived at a base camp in the Taruca Umana Valley. We were not entirely where we wanted to be, but a six-hour walk, mostly on old mining tracks, led to an ideal campsite next to a laguna (lake) at 4400 meters.

From where we were now situated, some of our objectives in the Taruca Umana Valley could be achieved, but disappointingly, to establish any routes in the Jankho Willkhi Range (one of our objectives) was now out of the question. The maps did not show the small mountain range that separated us from the Jankho Willkhi. On the positive side, the potential in our new surroundings in Taruca Umana Valley was absolutely mind-blowing. The question was which line to attempt first.

After a day spent acclimatizing, the group focused their climbing efforts on the fantastic granite slabs of the pyramids of Taruca Umana. A 40- to 60-minute walk led to the base of the cliffs. John and Wayne climbed The Poachers, a four-pitch, 105-meter VS that followed a brilliant crack line, in three hours. Over the next two weeks, ten routes with grades up to E2 5c were produced on the pyramids, including Crack Araca, a 100-meter HVS; The Corkscrew, a 175-meter VS that contains one of those unusual twisting moves through large boulders; Valley Boys (E2 5c), an excellent 112-meter route that combined excellent slab and crack climbing with occasional runout sections.

During our reconnaissance, we spotted a small range of unclimbed peaks in an area known as Cerro Auchuma in the next valley. To get to the Cerro Auchuma Range required a long and heavily laden haul over a pass at 4800 meters and back down to a camp at 4400 meters. We then found ourselves in a position to attempt three unclimbed peaks situated at the head of this valley.

The next day dawned cold but clear. We made a traverse across all three peaks. There was little technical climbing involved, and nine hours after leaving, we arrived back at the camp, having completed the “Travesia de las Tres Hermanas” (Traverse of the Three Sisters), at 4995 meters, give or take a meter or two between the height of each peak. The summits of each gave clear views of the Jankho Whilliki Range, but it also confirmed that the best approach to them would be via valley systems running to the west rather than our southerly approach.

Mike Rosser, United Kingdom