South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Chacraraju Oests, The Lord of the Towers, to Middle Summit

Publication Year: 2005.

Chacraraju Oeste, The Lord of the Towers, to middle summit. On July 8 and 9 Marjan Kovac and I (both from Slovenia) and Aritza Monasterio (Basque, living in Huaraz) opened a new route, The Lord of the Towers (ED+) on Chacraraju Oeste (6,112m), north face, in a lightweight single-day-and- night push from tent to tent.

We started from Huaraz on July 5 and established a base camp in the Paria Valley on the east side of the Cordillera Blanca. There we spent another day in bad weather, exploring the complicated approach to the north face of Chacraraju. The upper part of the Paria Valley is surrounded by glacial walls and exposed to seracs from the Chacraraju icefield.

The approach to the wall, on July 7, took nine hours. We had to climb difficult, mossy rocks, find a way across water gullies below an icefield, and finally hurry through the icefield by the only possible line, which lay below serac towers. The weather deteriorated, and we found a place for the tent during a snow storm in the evening. Nice weather the next day surprised us. At 8 a.m. we began climbing a direct line on the buttress on the left side of the face. We found old pitons and ropes on the first pitches. After four pitches of excellent rock climbing (6a A1) we traversed right to the icefield. Conditions there were mostly bad (wet new snow) until the wall became steeper, but then the first ice gully ended in overhanging mushrooms.

With another traverse we reached another gully, and after 10m of vertical icefall we reached mixed ground (M4-5) on the ridge. By then it was night, and we climbed with headlamps. The last rock barrier appeared to be overhanging, with no weak points visible in the dark. With another traverse, to the left, we reached a vertical corner, which combined standard Andean powder, smooth rock, snow mushrooms, and poor protection. Reaching the top wasn’t technically the hardest part of the route, but was nevertheless the crux. On top there was no ice for an anchor, only deep powder. I prepared “something” with my axes. While my partners followed together, with one headlamp, Marjan slipped, pulling Aritza off. I had difficulty holding both without real protection, but after a few dramatic moments we stood on top at about 10 p.m. We rappeled immediately, having trouble with cold, dehydration, and jammed ropes. After a 24-hour push, by morning we were again below the north face and by midnight at our base camp. The next day we continued back to Huaraz.

New route: The Lord of the Towers (El Señor de las Torres, 800m, ED+ 6a A1 A16 55°-70°(90° max)), follows the obvious buttress left of the main summit and reaches the original 1956 route on the ridge. It took 14 hours of climbing. We couldn’t find information about the old ropes at the beginning of the route. Other routes on this side: Terray et al (1956), Ortenburger et al (1964), Hapala-Husicka (1986).

Pavle Kozjek, Slovenia