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South America, Peru, Cordillera Vilcabamba, Nevado Weqqe Suruchi, A Life Less Ordinary

Nevado Weqqe Suruchi, A Life Less Ordinary. The Panta Group lies in a sparsely populated area and consists of the most westerly cluster of glaciated peaks in the Vilcabamba. The principal summits are Panta itself (5,667m) and Camballa (5,551m). In 2002 Germans Christoph Nick and Frank Toma attempted the elegant, unclimbed, and unnamed peak at the end of the long ridge running south from Camballa (5,551m), but were foiled by poor snow and crevasse danger. In summer 2003 they returned to the Panta Valley for a second attempt. The peak is marked on the 1965 Swiss map as 5,349.1m. Again they were accompanied by their two arrieras and now- firm friends, brothers Alejandro and Hermenegildo Huaman Olarte from Yamana, without whose local knowledge the expedition would not have been successful. They were also joined by fellow German Metin Kavaz. Base camp was established in the Panta Valley, from where they climbed a small peak. The three Germans then carried loads through a steep couloir to rocky ledges under the glacier on the south flank of their main objective. On July 13 they set out from their high bivouac for a summit attempt. At 5,000m Kavaz and Toma had to retreat due to ill health, but Nick continued and in a bold effort crossed crevassed slopes and climbed a steep ice face to a glacier terrace below the summit. The last obstacle was surmounted via an easy ramp, and the summit ridge proved less dangerous than expected. At 11.30 a.m. he was on top, where he recorded an altimeter reading of 5,437m. The route, which was christened A Life Less Ordinary, was rated AD+, with short rock sections of UIAA II and III in the gully leading to the bivouac site. The peak had no local name, so the climbers took the liberty of christening it Nevado Weqqe Suruchi, which in Quechua means “tears of ice.”

Lindsay Griffin, High Mountain INFO