American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Huayhuash, Tsacra Grande, West Face

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

Tsacra Grande, West Face. In mid-August Mark Richey and I left our families at our base camp at Laguna Jahuacocha and hiked up the Quebrada Huacrish to above Laguna Saquicocha. We camped that night on a grassy hillside just below the west side of the moraine that drops off steeply on its east side into the lake. Early the next morning we woke to cloudy skies and at first decided to wait another day for better weather. But a few hours later it was clear, and we decided to go. We climbed above our camp and traversed to the east across a steep, loose slope, high above the south end of Laguna Saquicocha. From there we dropped down onto the glacier draining the west side of Tsacra Grande. Once on the glacier we headed up a shallow trough in the middle that avoided icefalls on either side. As we approached the base of the west face, we skirted the large rock wall in the center by following the glacier up and to the right. After climbing up the broken glacier below the face, we angled up and left and got onto the west face where the ice face came down and met the glacier. Several pitches of alpine ice led to mixed climbing topped with a short WI4 pitch. From there we traversed left into a series of classic Peruvian ice runnels that led to the summit ridge. We took turns traversing unconsolidated snow along the summit ridge to the top. We rappelled the route (about 2,500') and reached the glacier after dark. We wandered around the glacier trying to find our way with headlamps in a dense fog. We eventually made it back to our camp around morning. The next day we hiked back to our base camp for lunch and some great trout fishing, as the sun was setting on Jirishanca and Yerupaja. We believe this was the first ascent of the west face.

Steven J Swenson, AAC

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