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South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Nevado Ulta, Northwest Bowl, Attempt

Nevado Ulta, northwest bowl, attempt. After aborting our plan to climb the southeast face of Jirishanca (6,126m) in the Cordillera Huayhuash, due to storm and illness, Jeremy Frimer (Canada) and I returned to the Cordillera Blanca in July and attempted a new route on the northwest bowl of Nevado Ulta (5,875m). The first day we followed a system of ramps on the left side of the face, to avoid the major rockfall gully in the center of the face. A strenuous pitch up vertical mixed terrain allowed us to leave the ramp system and start up impeccable ice flutings below the first main rock band. We dug an uncomfortable bivy out of a small scoop at ca 5,450m. The next day we climbed toward the rock band two-thirds of the way up the imposing face. We tackled it with a rightward traversing line, connecting ice ramps and broken granite. After climbing numerous ice pitches into the night, we fashioned a bivy platform by hacking a notch in the crest of a fluting at ca 5,700m. We were now about 16 pitches up. A strong snowstorm blew in during the night, forcing us to retreat on the third day, a hard decision since we were within 80m of the northeast ridge, where most difficulties would have ended. Our committing descent, involving multiple traversing rappels, lasted about 10 hours and included one 60m free rappel. Difficulties up to our high point were 5.8 A2 M5 AI4. Thanks to the Mugs Stump Award for supporting our trip.

Yanik Berube, Canada