South America, Peru, Cordillera Apolobamba

Publication Year: 2004.

Ritipata, Palomani Grande, Palomani Tranca Central, and other ascents. John Biggar again visited the remote Peruvian Apolobamba, and as in 2002, the climbers traveled via Puno to the 4,700m mining village of Ananea. Base camp was again established by the shores of the beautiful Laguna Callumachaya, from where the whole team (Linda and John Biggar, Paul Cherry, Mark and Lizzy Hylton, Ken Pritchard, and Andy Rendel) first climbed the 300m Callumachaya Buttress to a spectacular high camp on the edge of the glacier at ca 5,000m. This route, which included two long ice pitches at Scottish II/III and some easy rock climbing, was certainly new, as 10 years ago the buttress was under the glacier. On August 6 all climbers made an ascent of Ritipata Oeste (ca 5,380m) by a west-to-east traverse. John Biggar, Cherry, Pritchard, and Rendel then climbed the easy Southwest Ridge of Ritipata (5,410m). This is a different Ritipata from the one marked on the Italian map drawn after the 1958 expedition, which was the first to visit this area. It is therefore felt that both peaks were previously unclimbed.

The team had hoped to tackle the unclimbed 500m-high east face of Callijon. However, this proved beyond the time and energy resources of the party. Instead they turned to the unclimbed south face of Palomani Grande (5,723m), a peak that rumor has it had first been climbed in the 1920s by a Captain in the Bolivian Army (and was certainly climbed by Italians in 1958). Leaving a camp in the Quebrada Palomani on the 11th, both Biggars, Cherry, Pritchard, and Rendel ascended the glacier to the southwest of the peak and reached a basin beneath the south face. From there a steep snow rib at PD led to the top. On the 12th John Biggar and Rendel set off from the same camp and later in the day reached the summit of Palomani Tranca Central (5,600m, AD). They traversed over a lower west summit (ca 5,450m), on which they found several little shrines. Was this evidence of an Inca ascent? Palomani Tranca Central was probably a first ascent, though the higher East Peak (5,638m) was first climbed in 1985 from the north by British climbers Jim Curran and Geoff Tier. Before departing, members of the expedition also made ascents of Asnococha (ca 5,250m), Huincho (5,204m) and Palomani Norte (5,629m) via established routes. The first was known ground, as it had been climbed by John Biggar in 2002, while the last had been unsuccessfully attempted in 2002, to within 50m of the top.

As during the 2002 visit, no other westerners were seen during the two-week expedition, and the weather was equally poor. However, this time snow conditions were considerably better, allowing objectives which had been written off as too dangerous in 2002 to be successfully tackled.

Lindsay Griffin, High Mountain INFO