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South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Huaytapallana I and Huayatapallana II, East Summit, First Ascents

Huaytapallana I and Huaytapallana II, east summit, first ascents. I first spotted the climbing potential at the top of Quebrada Rajaruri, southwest of the Huandoy Group, in 2006 while on a day trek with my wife. In 2007 Jim Sykes and I made the first ascent of Huaytapallana I, by its northwest face.

The climb gave varied and adequately protected climbing for 11 pitches on excellent granite no harder than 5.8, with most of the climbing significantly easier.

I returned in 2008 with Oliver Metherell and Jim to try to climb Huaytapallana II. On July 19 we tackled the mountain’s west face, finding excellent rock but some runout climbing. After seven pitches we were short on time and made a rising traverse to the northwest ridge, which we followed for another pitch before reaching an impasse in the form of a large gendarme. We made three rappels to the bottom of the face, and, although we finished on the ridge, it was an excellent quality climb, albeit sparsely protected at times. Copout, (560m, 10 pitches, TD+ E1 5a or 5.9 R/X).

Jim headed down, but on the 24th Oliver and I started at dawn on the east ridge of Huaytapallana II. After an easy introductory pitch the climbing got interesting, and soon we arrived at an enormous wedged block on the col, to the right of a large tower. A narrow chimney led to the top of the block, where a steep flaky wall brought us to a perfect belay perched on the edge of the east ridge. The next pitch was the crux and the best pitch—perfect granite with just enough gear. The rest of the ridge was delightful, exposed, and airy but not too difficult. On the summit (the slightly lower east summit, 5,025m), as with the previous year’s climb of Huaytapallana I, we found no evidence of prior passage. A short scramble back the way we came brought us to a large terrace from where four rappels took us to the foot of the face just left of our previous rappel descent. Last Exit (375m, 7 pitches, TD E1 5a or 5.9R.

We have just scratched the surface, and many interesting objectives remain, some on the equally interesting-looking opposite side of the quebrada. The beauty of this area includes ease of access, perfect camping, and wealth of opportunity for moderate to difficult new routes on perfect granite in a gorgeous setting.

Anthony Barton, U.K.