American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Central, Tunshu, Direct Northeast Face

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

Tunshu, Direct Northeast Face. To reach Tunshu (5,730m), take the main highway from Lima to Huancayo through Oroya and Pachacallo. From there take the road to Hauylacancha Lake (60km, 3 hrs), and then to Siuracoha Lake and base camp, in the moraine. Water can be found in the glacial drainage nearby, and from the moraine it is 20 minutes to the glacier. The northeast face of Tunshu is visible from camp, and in three hours (follow the right side of the lake) you can reach the base of the wall.

Axel Loayza, Guillermo Mejia, and I began to climb the northeast face at 4 a.m., starting on the right side of the wall, then traversing on the glacier to a 50° slope and a bergschrund. From there we did our first pitch, over a snow/ice bridge; the pitches tended up and left. Pitch five involved loose snow on rock with patches of verglas. By the ninth pitch the terrain got more vertical, with sections of hard, brittle ice. Near the summit rock cap we did a diagonal traverse to where we could get in a piton and make our last anchor (11th). We were 40m from the summit. This was the most vertical section of the route. At 3 p.m. on November 1 we got to the summit and appreciated the view of the surrounding peaks: Pariakaka, Tatajaico, Col- lquepurco, and Vicunita.

We got to the summit in good weather but took so much time taking pictures that we didn’t notice a building thunderstorm. The rappel from the summit was complicated, and a bit hair-raising due to the lightning. After getting off-route, and a cold, open bivouac (at least the snow and lightning had ceased!), and a long walk to the tent, we arrived at camp at 11 a.m. the day after summiting.

Direct Northeast Face, 660m, V AI3 (50°-80°)

Jenny Postillos, Peru (translated by Bean Bowers)

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