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South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Santa Cruz Chico, East Face to within 20m of Summit

Santa Cruz Chico, east face to within 20m of summit. Scottish-based Jason Currie and Guy Robertson made a new route up the east face of the rarely climbed Santa Cruz Chico (a.k.a. Atuncocha), the 5,800m peak on the ridge between Santa Cruz (6,259m) and Santa Cruz Norte (5,829m). The face is not big and appears largely rocky, but before last year was unclimbed. The only previous recorded line on the mountain seems to be the 1958 American Route (Michael-Ortenburger-Ortenburger).

The Scottish pair reached base camp on July 7 and made their first attempt on the 13th. They tried a single-day push up the center of the face but came to a halt 150m below the summit, being forced to retreat, dehydrated, the following day. On the 17th they tried again, making a very early start and carrying a stove, though no bivouac gear. They first climbed three pitches (75°–80°) up a gully left of the toe of a rock spur in the center of the face, then, after a short rock pitch, followed a 60° gully and snow slopes to a very steep rock band. This was overcome at Al. Above, the pair climbed up right through mushrooms and seracs to a couloir leading to the summit ridge. They climbed the couloir (100m, 55°) to the crest of the ridge and eventually stopped 20m short of the summit due to typical Peruvian unstable cornice formations. A rappel descent was made of the route largely using rock anchors and Abalakov threads. Although there was around 600m of climbing, the height of the face was no more than 400m and the route graded Alpine TD. The pair report that the weather was generally stable throughout their stay in the mountains.

Lindsay Griffin, High Mountain INFO