American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Other Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Cordillera Blanca, other activity. The following information supplements the new routes individually reported above.

In addition to their climbs on La Esfinge (above), Polish climbers Arkadiusz Grzadziel, Boguslaw Kowalski, and Jerzy Stefanski added a 300m variation, to the right of the Normal Route, on the upper portion of Artesonraju (6,025m).

In the Ishinca Valley in early May, Jamie Laidlaw made two extremely steep ski descents, likely firsts. He climbed and skied (same line) the West Face (750m, D+) of Tocllaraju (6,032m), and two days later climbed and skied the 800m North Face (D+) of Ranrapalca. For Ranrapalca he climbed a ridge on the east side of the hanging face to minimize rockfall exposure. He climbed to the 6,162m summit but skied down from just below a short band of 5.5 rock that guards the summit plateau, and skied farther to climber s right than his ascent.

Also in the Ishinca, on June 18 Americans Wayne Crill and Kevin Gallagher returned to their 2004 route on Hatun Ulloc, Karma de los Condores, to make its first free ascent at 5.11d. One week later Americans Andy Wellman and James Woods repeated the route, free, and continued up Ulloc’s previously unclimbed upper tiers on rock up to 5.9R. About 60m from the summit they retreated due to dirty and vegetated cracks.

On August 15 Wellman and Tyler Anderson climbed the south face of Mururaju (a.k.a. Nevado Pongos Sur, 5,688m), likely making the second ascent of the 1999 Argentine-Israeli route, the South Face Direct (600m, TD WI3). They made some minor variations while climbing the face in 10 hours (16 hours roundtrip from base camp).

Wellman made many impressive repeats during the summer, including a 6:32 trailhead- to-summit solo of Artesonraju (6,025m) via the Normal Route.

The prolific Spanish climber Jordi Corominas made several speed solos, including the Ecuadorian Route on Santa Cruz (6,259m) in six hours, and the 1979 route on Sarapo (6,127m,in the Cordillera Huayhuash) in just three hours. Corominas also soloed a new variation to the Northeast Face of Huascaran Norte (6,654m) in a 12-hour roundtrip from camp, starting right of the other routes on the face, joining the 1973 French Route, and going left for an M5 pitch just below the ridge, which he then followed to the summit.

Basque climbers Kepa Escribano and Fernando Ferreras opened a nine-pitch rock route, Matxinsalto (ED-), on the northwest face of Huamashraju (5,434m). The granite route reportedly climbs runout slabs and vertical cracks, has difficulties to 6b, and finishes via the north ridge to the top.

On La Esfinge, Escribano and Ferreras repeated the 2004 route Killa Quillay, climbing it mostly free at 7a+/7b. Also on Esfinge, Americans Brian McMahon and Josh Wharton made a free variation to the 2000 route, Riddle of the Cordillera Blanca. Their free version, which they called King of Thebes (V+ 5.12b/c), took them seven-and-a-half hours onsight; they used no pins or bolts. The pair also onsighted Cruz del Sur in seven hours, reporting it, as other parties have, to be severely overgraded (originally 5.13a) but of high quality. They’d climbed the 1985 Original Route in four-and-a-half hours onsight, and on Wharton’s last day in Peru he made likely the first free solo, and certainly the fastest ascent, in 1:28.

Climate change continues to dramatically alter conditions in the Cordillera Blanca, as noted by many teams visiting the region. Josh Wharton writes of the north face of Huascaran Norte, from which he and Brian McMahon retreated (as did Steve House and Marko Prezelj a few days later) without setting foot on the face because of rockfall: “Someone will climb the north face again, but it will likely be a much different experience than Casarotto’s. Most of the ice on the lower face is gone, only measly snow patches remain, and the ice routes that once existed on the wall’s left flank seem to have entirely disappeared.”

Compiled with help from Antonio Gómez Bohórquez, Lindsay Griffin, and Richard Hidalgo

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