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South America, Peru, Cordillera Huayhuash, Rondoy, Attempt to Summit Ridge Cornices

Rondoy, attempt to summit ridge cornices. Aritza Monasterio (Basque-Peruvian) and I (Basque) made this ascent in continuous style (30 hours bivouac-to-bivouac) on June 26. [Editor’s note: Saez de Urabain considers it a new route, calling it Bagabiltza (900m, WI5). They climbed the huge, west-facing, Y-shaped ice funnel to the right of the 1982 Southwest Face route, ending just below the summit ridge cornices.] The approach can be quite complicated, due to the enormous, fractured glacier. First we climbed to the “Ghost Col,” then descended and bivied under the west face of Jirishanca, and the following day continued descending until reaching the snow cone at the start of our route.

We started climbing technical ground in piolet traction, because of favorable ice conditions. These conditions were produced by intense snowfall and the consequent shedding of this snow, conditions best at the beginning of the season. We only used ice screws for protection. The route is obvious, with a good perspective from Lake Jahuacocha. A great cone of snow indicated the beginning of the wall, and protruding vertical ice then put us in a lower-angle zone, where we progressed quickly until reaching the crux of the climb: a 250m wall of vertical ice with overhanging sections. Passing that section we reached the final zone, a wide, low-angle wall of ice with infinite runnels. The climbing continued in terrain featuring challenging snow mushrooms. The face is capped by an enormous, unstable cornice that crowns all of Rondoy. After assessing the risks we finished there and rappelled our line of ascent, using V-threads. I dare to say that the route is high quality and very beautiful.

Mikel Saez de Urabain, Basque (translated by Thad Eggen)