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South America, Bolivia, Various Ascents

Bolivia, various ascents. Although more may come to light, Bolivian contacts and regular visitors know of little pioneering activity in 2005. However, they do report that the mountains are in bad shape, crumbling and with marked glacial retreat. The general view is that climbing conditions are really tenuous.

In July a young British team of Tom Bide, Carl Reilly,Graeme Schofield, and Sam Walmsley visited the southernmost group of mountains in the Apolobamba. These peaks (sometimes referred to as the Pupuya Group), which run south from the Ulla Ulla-Hilo Hilo road to Acamani (ca 5,400m) and culminate in Huelancalloc (5,836m/5,847m), appear to have seen little traffic compared to the rest of the Apolobamba, and their history is unclear. Available reports suggested the steep southern aspect of these peaks were unclimbed. The team set up base camp at 4,730m, after a short approach from the road- head at Mankha Canuma to the west. On July 21 they climbed Canisaya (GPS 5,652m) by two different routes. Bide and Walmsley followed the southwest ridge (500m, D- 60°), while Reilly and Schofield climbed the southwest face to the left (500m, D 60° sustained snow and ice). Both parties descended by the southwest face. The following day all four climbed the west face of Casalaya (GPS 5,423m, 600m, D 60° with a convoluted serac section in the middle). From the summit they traversed the southeast ridge all the way to the exit of their route on the southwest face of Canisaya, down which they again descended. They estimated the grades of their routes relative to grades in the Condorini Massif, in which the group acclimatized, but believe their routes easier than those of the same grade in the Alps. Route lengths given here indicate the amount of climbing, not the vertical interval of the face.

On July 24 Bide and Schofield climbed the southeast face of Huelancalloc, by a serious ice/mixed line that took a narrow gully below the overhanging seracs of the summit ridge. They encountered difficulties of Scottish 4/5 and UIAA IV+, but moved together on much of the climb, often due to the lack of protection or belays. The 600m route was TD-/TD to the summit ridge, well left of the highest point. From here they descended the southwest ridge and regained camp after a 14-hour day. On the same day Reilly and Walmsley climbed the objectively safer southeast buttress (800m, D+). They followed a pronounced spur on the right side of the face, which, apart from a rock buttress, was mainly snow and ice (70° max). Below the crux chimney they found an ancient peg and assume the previous climbers completed the line to the summit. From the top Reilly and Walmsley descended the southwest ridge. Two days later Reilly and Schofield climbed the southwest gully on the left side of the face (500m, D-/D, generally Scottish 2 but with rock sections, the hardest IV+/V on good granite).

The group then moved north to the Cololo area, where they established base camp in the Kotani Valley east of Cololo (5,916m). The highlight was a new, though incomplete, line on the south face of Kotani North (ca 5,350m), the central summit on the valley rim northwest of Kotani Lake. This group of peaks forms the eastern extension of Cololo’s northeast ridge, which is characterized by steep rock walls capped by a broad serac barrier. On August 1 Reilly and Schofield climbed a thin, right-slanting icefall for 480m, to below the serac cap. There were at least four pitches of sustained Scottish 4 and 5, plus short sections of 2/3 and rock to IV+. The approach to the route is seriously threatened by collapsing seracs down a more major gully system to the left. On reaching the seracs they could see no easy way through and, as the day was getting late, decided to rappel the line of ascent using Abalakovs. They thought the climb to their high point (more than 200m below the summit) to be TD (90°).

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, CLIMB magazine