American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Huaguruncho, Llama Karma to Summit Ridge

South America, Peru, Cordillera Central

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Tom Chamberlain, U.K.
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2011

Tony Barton and I returned to the Quebrada Huaguruncho after a two-year absence. Our objective was the first ascent of the southwest face of Huaguruncho (5,730m), by the same line we had attempted in 2008 with Olly Metherell. Barton had also previously visited on three other occasions between 2003 and 2006.

We initially planned to acclimatize by climbing the S-couloir of Huarancaya Sur, which had appeared icy and viable in 2008. But conditions were far more dry in 2010, so, instead, we acclimatized on an unclimbed ridge on the rock peak Yanacocha (5,150m), on the south side of the valley. On July 27-28, we got most of the way up the ridge, including the likely first ascents of two sub-peaks, until a huge overhanging chasm barred our way and we aborted about 150m below the main summit.

After a couple of days of rest at base camp, we attempted our main objective, the southwest face of Huaguruncho. We were largely successful, climbing the face (but not to the summit), and calling our route Llama Karma (1000m, 24 pitches, ED 90° V[UIAA rock]). We left base camp on July 31, reached the ridge atop the face on August 3, and the next day downclimbed and rappelled the far side, in the direction of the 1956 first ascent ridge and toward the Matthews Glacier until reaching the valley floor. On August 5, we continued hiking down a long valley, up over a high pass next to Huarancaya Sur, and back to the valley of our base camp.

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