In July, Nate Farr and I with the support of the AAC’s McNeill-Nott climbing grant attempted a new line on Caraz II, but were stopped by loose, overhanging rock down low. We returned to Huaraz, disheartened and without a mission.
Adam French came to town and renewed our spirits with pictures of the southwest face of Pucaraju (5,320m), in the Yanamara subrange. Nate and I hopped a ride to Lake Queracocha and in half a day’s hike were bivied in a cave 2,000' below the face. As we hiked up on July 26, much of the face appeared covered in unconsolidated snow from a wet winter. However, a thin white line seemed to snake nearly unbroken all the way up the sunnier right side of the face. Game on!
The First pitch was 60m of sustained thin ice and mixed climbing on a three-foot-wide ice ribbon. The friable rock offered uncertain protection, so we took belays whenever we could on the succeeding pitches of névé, ice, and rock. Steeper and more delicate mixed climbing, up to M6, in the upper couloir culminated in a narrow chute Filled with classic Andean sugar snow.
Upon reaching the ridge, we downclimbed and rapped the south ridge and a snow couloir to the climber’s right of our line. Juego de los Reyes (300m, 5.8 WI4 M6) ascends the First corner system right of a major slab bisecting the southwest face.