American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Huascaran Massif, Unnamed Wall, Entre Boires

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

Huascaran massif, unnamed wall, Entre Boires. From July 23 to August 9, after seven days carrying loads, acclimatizing, and fixing the first 200m of the route, Youri Cappis (from Switzerland but living in Catalonia) and I climbed a new route on a rock triangle along the east face of Huascaran Norte. It seems that this was a virgin wall; we found no information about other routes. Youri had no big wall experience and had never used ice axes but wanted to experience the joy of living high on a wall for days, without any connection to phones, radios, or people at our BC.

From ABC at 5,200m, accessing the base of the wall at 5,350m was dangerous due to serac avalanches from between the two Huascarans. We spent 18 days (17 bivouacs) on the wall, climbing capsule-style with three wall camps: at pitches 5 (5,500m), 10 (5,750m), and 14 (5,950m). Although we had sunny moments, not one day was entirely good. We almost always had heavy fog and some snow, hence the name Entre Boires (Inside the Fog in Catalan). Intense cold froze our water bottles and caused us much trouble. On several days Youri stayed in the portaledge while I soloed pitches.

The first part of the route had many roofs. The middle part, with snow and ice to 80°, was extremely laborious when hauling and rappelling with haulbags. The final wall was very overhanging and our route here direct, but the rock quality was variable—really good or really bad. Some of the rock was like flour.

Above the rock spire (6,150m) we wanted to make an alpine attack on the summit of Huascaran Norte, but weather and black sugar ice made it impossible. We climbed 970m, with 800m of vertical gain, with difficulties up to 80° 6a+A3.

Rockfall from the middle section hit the base of the wall, cutting our fixed ropes. [They removed all of their fixed ropes—Ed.] But the route is pretty safe due to the big roofs and the overhangs. The climbing was difficult and complex but even more complex to descend.

Sílvia Vidal, Spain

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