Carlos Buhler and I planned a 17-day trip into the east side of the Cordillera Huayhuash, with hopes of climbing Yerupaja as the final objective. After an acclimatization period in the Cordillera Blanca, on July 9 we drove to the village of Queropalca and spent two days walking to our base camp in a quiet valley above Laguna Carnicero. Following two rest/organizational days we hiked past Laguna Suerococha to gain the glacier beneath the northeast face of Nevado Quesillo (5,600m; also named Jurau F on the 2004 Cordillera Huayhuash map). We made camp halfway up the glacier. Underestimating our day’s objective, we did not leave our tent until 7 a.m. on July 14. Ascending the glacier we gained the bottom of the rock face by traversing left onto a ledge system. I led the first pitch, starting in a corner and followed by a chimney (UIAA V-) for 30m. Carlos led the second pitch (70m) of steep loose rock (UIAA V), stopping just short of the snow face above. From here we climbed three 70m pitches of 55-75° snow and ice to the summit ridge and followed an airy 70m pitch to the summit. We descended making five 70m rappels down the right side of the face, including a scary free rappel after dark down a wet chimney. We arrived at our tent about 9 p.m., feeling that this easy-looking new route (350m, D+ V- AI3 55-75°) took longer than it should have.
After a few days’ rest we attempted a new route on the steep, 660m east face of Carnicero (5,960m). Retracing our tracks up to the glacier below Nevado Quesillo, we made a long traverse right across the glacier to a campsite on a ridge below Jurau D. We planned to climb with light packs and no bivouac gear, hoping to get up and down in 24 hours. Departing at midnight we traversed the glacier to the bottom of the east face and climbed together up the first 70m of the central gully system. At a fork in the gully we started belaying. I led the first 70m pitch up the right-hand gully, involving many steps of 80° AI4. Carlos led another similar 70m pitch. Then I led two pitches of bulletproof, blue ice averaging 60-70°. At the top of this gully system Carlos led to the right, up 70-80° mixed ground (AI4/4+), to gain the easier-looking snow slopes in the middle of the face by 9 a.m. Here we were disappointed to find soft snow from the sun and rocks beginning to fall. We climbed two more 70m pitches before taking cover under an overhang from the rockfall. At 3:30 p.m. when the face finally quieted down, without bivouac gear and still only halfway up, we rappelled, since we had lost so much time.
Brad Johnson, AAC