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South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Huantsan Norte, The Wayqui Way

Huantsan Norte, The Wayqui Way. Rolando Morales Flores, Beto Pinto Toledo, Michel Bernuy Qiuto, and I (all International Federation of Mountain Guides aspirants from the Casa de Guias in Huaraz, Peru) entered the Rajucolta Valley on July 11 and set up base camp on the west side of Huantsan, at 5,175m. The next day we climbed the west face of the col north of Huantsan Norte (6,113m), with only a half-liter of fuel, food for two days, two sleeping bags, two mattresses, five Friends, seven Stoppers, five ice screws, and six pitons. We climbed in pairs, 3m apart, sharing a rope on the exit pitch. We started with 240m of a new route. The first pitch contained mixed climbing on thin ice patches over rock, with hard-won protection, followed by two pitches of vertical ice and snow up to 90°. The fourth pitch had vertical ice and mixed climbing over rock slabs and 4m of vertical rock and ice that allowed us to exit the face.

We dug a snow cave and waited for morning to make a summit bid, but bad weather kept us cave-bound, and we ate the remaining food. On day 4 we left our bivy at 2 a.m. and started the Northwest Ridge with just a liter of water and two Power Bars for the four of us. We climbed 10 runout pitches, using only deadmen as anchors. The most difficult part required crossing from the west face of the ridge to the east face, over cornices and mushrooms. At 6:34 a.m. in perfect conditions, we became the first all-Peruvian team to reach the summit of Huantsan Norte. Fourteen rappels later, down the northeast face, leaving seven snow stakes, four pitons, and all the cordelettes we had, we reached the glacier and our bivy at 5:30 p.m. Our supplies exhausted, we kept going, and at 11:30 p.m., after 21 hours on the move, we feasted on the remaining food in base camp and drank from a nearby a water hole, having finished our almost-epic ascent of the The Wayqui Way (850m, TD+ WI4 M4 90°; in Quechua, wayqui means “brothers”).

Christian Andreas Stoll Davila, Peru (adapted from www.alpinist.com)