American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Siula Grande, Noches de "Juerga"

Peru, Cordillera Huayhuash

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Matic Jost
  • Climb Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 2002

On July 3 Viktor Mlinar, Tomaz Zerovnik, Aritza Monasterio, and I left Huaraz and took a bus to Chiquian, where we hired donkeys to get to the Cordillera Huayhuash. From July 4-6 we marched to base camp, which we placed at 4,300m, half an hour from Lake Sharapococho. The weather was bad, with snowfall. From BC we saw only Yerupaja, Sharapo, and Trapezio. We used the bad-weather time for BC settlement, resting, and planning. We decided to put a tent with food and equipment under the wall. On the 10th, accompanied by our cook Marselindo, we carried heavy rucksacks to the base of the wall, at ca. 5,200 meters. Marselindo turned back, while we set up a tent and settled down for sleep. From BC to the tent was a six-hour walk. The next day we returned to BC to rest. The weather was odd.

On July 14 we left for the tent under the wall. Crevasses looked strange, so Viktor and Toma roped. After a hard beginning over the crevasse, with some dry tooling, Viktor traversed a snow mushroom to a steep icefield and beyond to the first rocks (Scottish VI). He placed a bolt, fixed a rope, and roped down. The first 55 meters of the huge wall was climbed. We slept in the tent under the wall. The weather was beautiful.

We started at night on the 15th; helped by the fixed rope. The slope beyond was a constant 65 degrees. The hardest pitches ascended a vertical icefall with very hard ice. We intended to bivi halfway up the wall, but when the sun got to the wall, ice and rocks started to fall. We were at ca 5800m and very exposed, so we quickly settled for a bivouac in a snow mushroom on our left. We took a little nap on a small shelf. It was very uncomfortable. The weather was beautiful. Next day in the morning we first descended 40 meters. The day's first pitch was led by Viki, the next by Aritza; then I took a pitch that involved a steep section with bad ice. The next pitch looked hard. I placed a bolt and roped down to a safe overhanging rock. We decided to bivi there and for four hours dug a shelf. With the sun, rocks and ice started to fall, but we were safe. The weather was good.

On July 17 we started at night. We left sleeping bags, bivi sacks, and food at the bivi site. We first ascended the fixed rope, then easily traversed left. The next two pitches combined bad vertical ice with rock. Aritza climbed more ice and a precarious mix with bad protection (Scottish VI). When I joined him a collapsing snow mushroom just missed us. We were surprised, as the wall was still in shade. There were only steep snow gullies and huge cornices left to overcome. Aritza took two more pitches, and finally Viktor masterfully traversed to the ridge. At 5:30 p.m. we stood at the top of the wall. We were 50 meters vertically and 200 meters horizontally from the summit of Siula Grande. We prepared for a bivouac in snow holes on top of the cornice. It was cold, the wind was blowing, and our sleeping bags were far away. We kept moving our fingers and tried not to sleep. At about 4 a.m. it started to snow. First we thought it was coming from the fog but soon found it getting serious.

We descended our line of ascent. We made 21 rappels: 13 from ice screws, 3 from bolts, 1 from a piton, and 4 from snow sabers. It was constantly snowing, and avalanches were burying us. Fortunately, the wall is too steep for a big avalanche. At 2:30 p.m. we got to the tent under the wall, tired but happy and safe. In the morning we descended to BC, leaving wet ropes and the tent. New snow covered our tracks on the glacier, but we had no major problems. It snowed all day, and in BC it was raining. Finally, base camp, beer, Cuba libres. Then rest, rest, rest. The weather was beautiful. Marselindo retrieved our equipment from the base of the wall. He is 62 years young and walks so fast that we had problems catching him. He is quite a legend. We were waiting for donkeys on July 21, and the weather was sunny but windy. We returned by another path to Cajatambo, the nearest phone and road. On the 24th and 25th we rode back to Huaraz. And finally we chose the name of the route: Noches de “Juerga” (27 pitches, 1,000 meters, ED 65-90-degree ice; mixed Scottish VI).

Matic Jost, Slovenia

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