American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Pisco Este, South Face to Summit Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Pisco Este, south face to summit ridge. In mid-June I went to the East Peak of Pisco via Laguna 69 and a faint trail up the left side of the moraine. After reaching a high point, the trail descends steeply for 100m to a tiny pond, where I put up my tent, at the only possible place in the area. I followed a line to the right of the face as seen from the glacier, where the glacier was not very crevassed or complicated (and the crevasses were clearly visible). Reaching the face wasn’t difficult except for the last bit, where I had to cross snow bridges across large crevasses which, as far as I could see, sliced the glacier beneath the whole south face.

The face, which is perhaps 300-350m high, provided all kinds of snow conditions. In the lower part I climbed 50-60° snow, before entering a narrow gully right of an evident rock spur. To enter it, however, I had to climb a 3-4m mixed section of 80° M4. There was then good ice and hard snow up to 70°, but mostly around 60°-65°, until the route enters a small bowl with 55° powder. The final mixed wall, though less than 100m, presented difficulties much harder than anything else on the route. First it was rock (80° M5), reasonably solid with many cracks and features, then a serac with short sections of 90°, and finally a longer 80° section that finished on the ridge to the left of, and some 10m below, the summit. I reached the summit ridge at 11 a.m. I did not climb to the summit, which was overhanging ice and snow. The route is exposed to objective danger, as everything falling from the summit is funneled into the gully, but during the climb nothing came down. To descend I downclimbed and rappelled, from Abalakovs, in a gully down the short north face to the glacier, until I could easily traverse down to the little col between Pisco West and East. There I placed a piton and made eight rappels (using a single 45m rope) to the south, from slings around rocks and a few Abalakov threads. But it’s mainly a rock wall, of perhaps 150m, and more pitons would be preferable. I traversed the glacier beneath the south face to my starting point.

Adam Kovacs, Sweden

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