Cololo (5,915m); Chaupi Orco northern summit (6,000m); Katantica Central (5,610m); new routes and repeats. During July resident French guide Alain Mesili and visiting Brazilian guide Waldemar Niclevicz spent almost two weeks climbing several routes in this partially explored range in northern Bolivia, straddling the Peruvian border. Mesili and Niclevicz climbed a possible new route on the northeast face of the striking pyramid, Cololo, at 5,915m the second highest peak in the Apolobamba. Approaching via Kotani Lake (4,760m) to the east, then following the glaciers below Khala Phusi (5,465m), they reached the bottom of the virgin east face (unsuccessfully attempted by a British party in 1997), where a 250m-high couloir separates the face from the northeast ridge. This line gave good climbing over névé, soft snow, and ice up to 70°. It was graded Alpine D+.
Cololo (aka Ccachura) lies roughly in the center of the range but south of the Pelechuco road that divides the Apolobamba into its northern and southern sectors. It was first climbed in 1957 by a team from the German Alpine Club, via a circuitous route involving the south face and part of the west ridge. The West Ridge itself (D), perhaps the finest route on the mountain, was first climbed in 1988 by David Hick and Michael Smith (UK), while the rocky North Ridge (D- III, 65°) fell to Pam Holt, David Tyson, and David Woodcock the following year.
Mesili and Niclevicz repeated an existing route on the east face of Chaupi Orco’s northern summit (6,000m). They encountered dangerous conditions, with a thin film of névé over deep wind-blown snow. This route lies to the right of the Central Couloir, climbed in August 1995 by a team of young Germans led by Alexander Ritzer, and was rated AD AI 2. Mesili also reports that the Normal Route up the East Ridge of Chaupi Orco (6,044m), the highest peak of the Apolobamba, is almost impossible to reach, as the approach via the northern flank is over rotten ice and is threatened by unstable seracs.
The Chaupi Orco Massif, which straddles the Peru-Bolivian border, is geographically complex and has traditionally led to parties confusing the north and main summits, resulting in ambiguous route descriptions, orientations, and ascents. The first ascent of the main summit (via the East Ridge) was made in 1957, at AD, by the Germans Werner Karl, Hans Richter, and Hans Wimmer, during the first recorded mountaineering expedition to the Apolobamba.
On Katantiea Central (5,610m), which lies just north of the Pelechuco road in the northern Apolobamba, Mesili and Niclevicz repeated the Original 1968 German Route (Karl Gross- Dieter Hain), which involved easy climbing to a steep exit on the east-southeast face. They also climbed the West Ridge (Brain-Flood-Wiggin, 1997; AD+, 65°).
Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, CLIMB magazine