American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Vilcanota, Various Ascents

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

Various ascents. The Anglo-Scot- tish Vilcanota Expedition 2004 had as its primary objective the south face of Colque Cruz 1 (6,102m). Our leader, Dave Wilkinson, had made two earlier expeditions to the Vilcanota, in the 1980s, but we were unaware of the attempt by Peter Carse and Amy Bullard (AAJ 2004, pp. 293-294). We arrived at the idyllic base camp (4,600m) on July 14 after an easy two-day walk from Tinqui. There is a good track on the right, when ascending, of the large glacier on the south side of the Colque Cruz peaks, which enabled us to put a temporary camp nearer our objective. After a tedious crossing of the moraine-covered glacier we found a surprisingly easy, and apparently safe, icy corridor, close to the rocky buttresses of Nevado Ichu Ananta, giving access to a glacier bay under the south face of Colque Cruz I. Unfortunately this glacier had a deep cover of unstable new soft snow. We climbed to the col between Colque Cruz I and Ichu Ananta (5,720m) but concluded that the south face of Colque Cruz I was not in a climbable condition. Accordingly, on July 23, we climbed Ichu Ananta from the col, by a short face and an easy mixed ridge to a splendid viewpoint.

After a rest at base camp we split into two parties. D es Rubens and Steve Kennedy ascended a very fine mixed rock and snow ridge (the “Scottish Ridge”) rising from near base camp to the west peak (ca 5,650m) of Kiru (5,720m). They bivouacked a little above the top of the rock section (about 400m of Scottish Grade II climbing). The following day, July 29, they climbed the complex snowy section of the ridge, which sported a variety of typically Andean formations: huge mushrooms, massive icicles, and bottomless voids. This section included pitches of Scottish Grade V. They reached a broad and almost horizontal ridge near the summit, but the snow was waist deep, so they descended before reaching the summit.

Meanwhile, Dave Wilkinson and I ascended the glacier between the Cayangate and Jatunhuma groups and turned left up the glacier between Nevado Ninaparaco and Jatuncampa. We pitched camp at about 5,100m, above the lower icefall of this glacier. The next day, July 29, we crossed to below the north face of Ninaparaco and ascended it by a line we had spotted the previous day. The summit we reached (ca 5,930m) is a subsidiary summit of Jatunhuma (also known as Pico Tres), about 1 km northeast of the main summit. The route involved an initial deviation east and back west to get onto a glacier shelf below the main face, then a climb of about 150m up ice spattered with large quantities of debris from seracs above. To escape the line of fire we moved left across a mixed rock and ice section to reach a broad snowfield that narrows to a gully near the summit. The snow was composed of “steps” of the nieves penitentes type, making the climbing easier than it would otherwise have been at this angle. We reached the summit late in the afternoon and were benighted on the descent, spending a cold, uncomfortable night at about 5,700m. However, after a slow descent we regained base camp with no further dramas.

As far as we know all three climbs were first ascents. The expedition was very professionally supported by Cusco agents Atalante Quechua (operaciones@atalantequechua.com), whom we strongly recommended to anyone wishing to climb in Peru.

Geoff Cohen, Scottish Mountaineering Club

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.