American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Caraz II, Australian Route and Salida Directa de Los Gordos

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2005

Caraz II, Australian Route and Salida Directa de Los Gordos. Early season snowfalls in the Cordillera Blanca created unstable conditions in the mountains. Most of the “action” was taking place in the bars of Huaraz. Undeterred, two small teams set off for the Laguna Parón area, hoping to find something not covered in snow.

From the summit of Pisco the French team of Damien Astoul, Mathieu Detrie, Gaspard Petiot, and Basile Petiot spied the east face of Caraz II, shining in the morning sunlight. The Australian team of Matt Scholes and Ant Morgan caught the same vision on their way to the Artesonraju moraine camp. The east face has three prominent couloirs, offering initial steep climbing, Finishing at the overhanging summit headwall.

On July 21 the French team left their high camp on the heavily crevassed glacier, breaking a trail through knee-deep snow on their way to the left-hand couloir, which is directly below the summit. They encountered fantastic ice conditions on the lower pitches (90°), and continued up easier ice and snow, arriving at the headwall at dusk. The four spent the night in a small tent with a stove and two sleeping bags. The next morning Basile led the loose, overhanging crux first pitch of the headwall (6a A2), having to clear large blocks. They again encountered loose rock on the next two pitches, before climbing unconsolidated snow to the summit. [This describes a complete and slightly more direct finish to the 1997 Superduper Couloir route/ attempt. From the top of the couloir the ’97 team traversed, before climbing the left-hand margin of the headwall, continued along the ridge, but did not summit. The photo in the AAJ 2002, p. 299, mistakenly shows the ’97 route continuing directly up the headwall. The Caraz II photo presented here corrects this error and also shows the 2002 British variation/attempt, previously unreported in the AAJ, which also stopped short of the summit—Ed.] Eight rappels on two 100m ropes brought the Frenchmen safely back to their high camp. Superduper Couloir— Salida Directa de Los Gordos (700m, ED 6a A2 90°-95°ice).

Leaving just after midnight on the 24th, the Australians took advantage of the Frenchmen’s trail on their way to the right-hand couloir. After crossing the ‘shrund, they encountered styrofoam snow and a single ice step (WI3) before moving left, about 350m up, out of the couloir onto the rib between the right and central couloirs. The next seven pitches ranged from beautiful rock and ice to the infamous Peruvian honeycomb snow.

The Australians arrived at the summit headwall to find a 35m pitch of clean, solid rock guarding the final snow slopes. With no bivy gear but a promising forecast, they decided to continue up. The pitch had to be broken into two, due to a minimal rack. The first went at V+ (20m) and the second at A2. It was dark and windy by the time the Australians reached the summit slopes. They found a snow mushroom offering protection and settled down just under the summit. The next morning the pair climbed a short pitch to the summit, before rappelling the French route. Australian Route (720m, ED1 V+ A2 WI3).

Anthony Morgan, Australia

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