South America, Peru, Cordillera Vilcanota, Cayangate, Satan's Legs; Nevado Chumpe, Three Chumps on Chumpe

Publication Year: 2007.

Cayangate, Satan’s Legs; Nevado Chumpe, Three Chumps on Chumpe. On June 11 Mark Hesse, Chris Alstrin, and I walked into the Cordillera Vilcanota. Within the first week we climbed the northwest face of Nevado Chumpe (6,106m; a.k.a. Jatunriti), descending the northeast side, to acclimatize on a route we referred to as Three Chumps on Chumpe (550m, IV 75°). We then focused on the beautiful 1,100m east ridge of Nevado Cayangate (6,110m; indigenous name Nevado Collpa Anata). [Many peaks in this region have several names—Ed.]

On the afternoon of the winter solstice we walked up-glacier toward the base of Cayangate, as clouds began to build in the north. When the alarm sounded, clouds rose toward us from the valley floor and descended from the ridge; verglas shone on the rock in the last light of the waning moon. We retreated to our base camp, and hail arrived with us. The next three days brought persistently poor weather.

Although we only had three days before the caballeros returned with their horses, we walked back to the base of the route on June 25. Arriving beneath the red granite ridge at 10 a.m., we simul-climbed the initial 200m of 5.8 and 5.9 in the sun, beneath a brilliant sky. Our joy continued into the early afternoon when high clouds closed together, and we entered a long section of excellent mixed climbing that took us to our first bivy. The first pitch of the next morning had the poorest rock quality and protection of the route, but it also provided stellar exposure and sun, for which we were grateful after the long night. Following another six pitches of surprisingly continuous 5.9, we reached the snow high on Cayangate’s shoulder and began traversing up the east face, unroped beneath large hanging seracs and sometimes climbing short water-ice pitches to skirt crevasses and rock bands. The afternoon was a blur of white as clouds descended again, and we struggled through them until we summited in a whiteout around 5:00 p.m. We descended to the col on the north side of Cayangate and bivied just below the curve of the pass. There we suffered a night of unrelenting winds, as the temperature buried itself in the negatives.

It took almost the entire next day for us to rappel the heavily crevassed glacier that flows down from the col and to make it through an additional 300m of rock rappels to the base of the ridge. We arrived in camp at dusk to the warm smiles of the caballeros. The next morning we began our walk back to the village of Tinqui. We named the route Satan’s Legs (1,100m, VI 5.9 M5+ WI4 65°, July 24-26) thinking of that powerful red granite ridge, and in consideration of Virgil and Dante’s climb out of The Inferno by Lucifer’s legs into the Southern Hemisphere, toward Paradise.

Andrew Frost, AAC