American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Huayhuash, Jirishanca Norte to Summit Slopes

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

Jirishanca Norte to summit slopes. It is early July, and my climbing partner Iñigo Mujica and I have just gotten off the south face of Chacraraju, after completing the Bouchard Route in 25 hours. On arrival at our base camp at Laguna Jahucocha we saw that the southwest face of Rondoy was impracticable, owing to loose snow and avalanches. Jirishanca, however, looked be in good condition. We knew that the north summit, or in any case this face, remained virgin. Establishing a route on the face motivated us to mount a fast, nonstop assault.

At the same time the distance to the face was a problem. From the lake it appears to be nearby, but the serac barrier at its base forces one to make a huge detour. Faced with these logistics, we ferried loads and established a camp on the pass between the Ogre and Yerupajá Chico. Just before the pass we were faced with overhanging serac eight meters high, which Iñigo climbed in impeccable style. Camp was in a truly impressive place, with the Yerupajá glacier on one side and the one issuing from Jirishanca on the other. We stayed at this camp an entire day, resting and preparing for our assault.

On July 19 we left our tent at 1 a.m. and began the descent towards the base of the wall. The first part of the route up the face turned out to be trickier than expected, with difficult pitches among seracs. Daybreak found us 300m up, at the foot of the great slope that makes up the route’s middle section. There we encountered relatively easy, though exposed, climbing that took us to the base of the great final dihedral. To reach the dihedral we overcame difficulties involving very hard 70° ice and mixed sections, yet it became clear that the hardest climbing was still to come. We started up the great dihedral with a 70m, grade 5 pitch, followed by another of the same length but of 5+ M5+ difficulty. The following pitch began with difficult aid climbing on rock and ended below the final summit slopes. However, my partner had lost a crampon, and since without it there was no chance of reaching the summit, we retreated about two pitches shy of the top, though it was only 3:30 p.m. So began a long series of rappels, interrupted only by a stop so we could melt snow, followed by what was without a doubt the hardest part of the day—the climb back up to camp.

We reached the tent at 2 a.m., concluding a 25-hour push. The following morning we continued down to our base camp in Jahuacocha, where fried trout awaited our return. From base camp my friend and our gear departed toward Huaraz. I still hankered to see the Huayhuash, so I went for a hike around the base of the massif.

Oriol Baró i Ramon, Spain (translated by Oriol Solé-Costa)

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