Chacraraju Este, En el Alto, el Viento sera Nuestra Recompensa, to summit ridge. Aymeric Clouet and I took two days to reach a camp under the face between the moraine and the glacier. This year the right moraine from Laguna 69 was the only safe access to routes on Chacraraju East (6,001m). The direct approach was threatened by big seracs. We pushed ahead to the bottom of the face to make a track through the new snow for the next morning. We were too excited and a bit anxious to get much sleep. We woke on August 15 at 12:30 a.m., left camp with a light rucksack with only climbing gear, water, food, and a jacket at 1 a.m., and began climbing the first ice-flute gully in the center of the south face around 3 a.m. In spindrift we quickly climbed steep snow slopes cut by a short icy wall. The sun lit the top cornices and the blowing snow when we reached the rock bastion. A cornice fell just behind us and ploughed the gully below—ouch! Afraid, lucky, and frozen by the wind, Aymeric led the first pitch, forced by thin, vertical ice to find protection in rock.
Above was an impressive wall, steep and overhanging, with huge stalactites. Only one line seemed possible. We crossed a few ice flutes on the right to reach it. Two incredible mixed- climbing pitches then drove us to a big, crazy ice spider! It was a climbing dream—ice-axe jamming, rock, firm snow…a few sparks…free…just pleasure. But as time was a consideration, I chose the more stable icicle on the right: one of the spider’s legs. A good choice: overhanging, but less overhanging than other options. At the belay Aymeric could hear my softer placements resonate. Night was falling, and Aymeric dropped his water bottle. In two pitches of steep ice flutes we reached enormous snow mushrooms, the arête, and an even stronger, icier wind. We followed the Japanese route (Kondo- Yoshino, 1976) up the southeast ridge, with two old bolts so high on a slab that I had to jump to clip one. Since 1976 the snow level has decreased. In the cold we climbed one more pitch, hard mixed climbing that required me to take off my gloves. Frozen, we had no choice but to descend. The summit was 100m above, and the snow arête looked easier, but the wind was too much for our hands and feet. Then began a long descent, thirsty and bitter cold. During the day the wind never abated, and there was no sun on this southern hemisphere south face. We first abseiled on Japanese pitons and bolts, then on Abalakov threads, snow anchors, and two pitons. At 5 a.m. we arrived at camp, overly tired after 28 continuous hours but filled by our adventure and hot soup, even without the summit. En lo Alto, el Viento sera Nuestra Recompensa (“up high, the wind is your reward”) (700m, ED+ VI WI5+ M6) We climbed with the memory of three good friends: Arnaud Drouet, Marshal Musemeci, and François Dupety.
Didier Jourdain, France