South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Hatun Ulloc, Karma de Los Condores

Publication Year: 2005.

Hatun Ulloc, Karma de Los Condores. On August 29 Wayne Crill and I completed a new route on the previously unclimbed 350m south face of Hatun Ulloc in the Quebrada Ishinca. Four large, impressive rock buttresses rise ominously from the forested slopes of the north side of the quebrada, guarding the entrance to the Ishinca Valley. Hatun Ulloc (Quechua for “Big Sprout”) is the third, tower-like buttress visible above the Huascarán National Park entrance station. The base of the face is at about 4,120m.

We first viewed these impressive rock features en route to Ishinca base camp with Jeff Jackson in August 2003. The allure of a first ascent on steep, clean granite with abundant crack features and relatively minimal vegetation was all we needed to abandon our La Esfinge plans and spend the last days of our trip attempting the south face of Hatun Ulloc. Our 2003 efforts got us up 120m, our four pitches of 5.9+ to 5.11 including classic hands, fingers, steep dihedrals, and deep chimneys and bringing us to a vegetated ledge. We returned in late August 2004 with Jeff Jackson and Jon Herrera from Austin, Texas. After fixing lines to the vegetated ledge, we spent four days aiding and cleaning, before Jeff and Jon returned to the States. With half the manpower and time running out, we recruited a Huaracino [Huaraz local] and Casa de Guia aspirant named Oscar Negreiros Cerna. Our new team continued from our existing highpoint, three pitches above the ledge. We started each day before dawn, to catch the two hours of sun before being hampered by the frigid, gale-force winds that raged almost daily. We initially aided the upper pitches, then cleaned loose rock, dangerous chockstones, and steel-wool-like vegetation, leaving beautiful splitter cracks. On August 29 we reached the flat sidewalk-like summit of the face after six long pitches on the upper headwall, leaving us one day for attempting the entire route in a single push. Free climbing attempts ground to a halt on pitch six, the “Roofer Madness” pitch. We will return early in 2005 to complete a free ascent of this route, which we believe could become a popular classic. We named the route Karma de los Condores because of the Andean condors that regularly flew by and inspired our ascent. Route Description: Karma de los Condores (350m, IV 5.11 A2+). Three pitches ascend to the ledge: one of two alternate 5.9+ starting pitches, a beautiful continuous 5.11 pitch, and a 9+ himney/tunneling pitch. Six more pitches reach the top of the face. The first two pitches above the ledge climb steep face and cracks, at 5.10+, to “Roofer Madness.” This pitch will probably go free at hard 5.11. The final three pitches were A2+ and have yet to be freed, but appear to be in the 5.11 range.

Kevin Gallagher, Eldorado Springs, Colorado