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South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, La Esfinge, Variante Checa

La Esfinge, Variante Checa. In June we had the opportunity to attempt to open a big-wall variation on La Esfinge (5,350m). David Font, from Cataluña, Spain, a Mexican friend Emiliano Villanueva, one porter, and I joined as a team. We climbed the first pitch of Papas Rellenas, then traversed left to the route Lobo Estepario. We opened a new pitch to the right of Lobo Estepario. We then climbed the third pitch of Riddle of the Cordillera. Between Via Gringos and Riddle we opened a new pitch that reaches the belay station of Gringos. At this point, after two days of climbing, we fixed ropes and descended.

Two days later we returned to the wall and continued the ascent, climbing the sixth and seventh pitches of Via Gringos. On the eighth pitch we deviated to the right, into a dihedral that forms a chimney and passes through a small roof. We opened the following six pitches, using natural belay stations and rivets, until we found a traverse to the right that ascends directly to the summit. (These last two pitches had been climbed by a previous party.)

The 16-pitch route involved two nights and two and a half days on the wall, with a difficulty of VI 5.10d A2+. During our ascent a fatal accident occurred to a Czech climber on the Cruz del Sur route. For this reason we named our route Variante Checa.

Emiliano Villanueva (Mexico) and Marius Bagnati (Brazil) completed the third ascent of Cruz del Sur a few days after we climbed Variante Checa.

Luis Carlos GarcÍa Ayala, Mexico (translated by Molly Loomis)