Cordillera Apolobamba, First Ascents

South America, Bolivia, Cordillera Apolobamba
Author: Marcin Kruczyk & Wojciech Chaladaj, Poland. Climb Year: 2009. Publication Year: 2010.

From the village of Pelechuco, we (Daria Mamica-Galka, Jakub Galka, Wojciech Chaladaj, and Marcin Kruczyk) hired five mules and trekked to the Huancasayani Valley. To the best of our knowledge the valley had been the target of two previous expeditions—German in 1998 and New Zeland/American in 2008. Thanks to materials and information obtained from James Dempster, a member of the latter expedition, and a copy of Paul Hudson’s map, presented by Royal Geographical Society, we identified summits and made rough plans. A three-day trek took us over three passes above 4,500m. About two km before Puina we turned west into the Huancasayani Valley and continued for several more hours, reaching a perfect base camp (4,600m) on the edge of a side valley falling from Coquenzi, 2-3 hours from Lusuni Pass.

After two days of acclimatization, we attacked our first target—the probably unclimbed, unnamed four-summit ridge, which we called Trata Tata, falling to the north from Pacasqua Mukuku (ca 5,050m). On July 19 three of us (Jakub, Wojciech, Marcin) climbed the second highest summit in the Trata Tata massif, following the northwest ridge from the lowest pass, which is easily accessible from both sides (rock difficulty II, with several pitches up to V; very loose rock). We returned to camp via the east face, with two rappels and a three-hour walk. Two days later we reached the unclimbed west peak of Coquenzi (5,150m; its main summit was climbed by both previous expeditions) via the southwest ridge and descended via the German route, after a rappel from the summit. The most serious problem with this AD climb (glacier to 70°, rock/mixed to M4) was extremely fragile rock. Our third aim was the possibly unclimbed Nevado Losoccocha on the western ridge of Kura Huari, on the Peruvian side (5,100m). Two of us (Wojciech and Marcin) climbed and descended it on July 23, following the shepherds’ and smugglers’ path to Lusuni Pass, then crossing a glacier and scrambling the east ridge. The whole climb is easy (F+, 20–40° glacier, rock I-II) but unpleasant due to poor rock. After a rest day, we focused on the 5,000m unclimbed, unnamed summit on the main ridge extending south from Kura Huari. We ascended it on July 25, via the east face, encountering difficulties of AD. We christened it La Indigna, due to its inconspicuous figure. An easy rock face led to a chimney (M3), then a glaciated couloir (70° max) to a pass (which separates La Indigna from FAE 5 [climbed and named by the Germans]), from which we summited with a single, easy (M2) pitch. Due to a strong wind, snowfall, and difficult climbing, we did not climb the 7m rock monolith crowning the summit. On the last day of our stay, three of us (Jakub, Wojciech, and Marcin) repeated the German route to the summit identified in their report as FAE 3, finding easy terrain. On July 29 we returned to Pelechuco, and a few days later, back at El Carretero hostel in La Paz with a bottle of wine, we considered our expedition a success.

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