Ritacuba Blanco, east face, Ocho Amaneceres
Colombia, Sierra Nevada del Cocuy
In January 2013, Marco Jubes, Dani Moreno, and I managed to put up a new line on Ritacuba Blanco (5,350m) in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy. We choose an unclimbed line on the central wall: a huge, vaulted ceiling, with many roofs. We climbed the first 100m of Tierra de Condores to reach a large horizontal break below the face, which we traversed directly left for 150m to the start of our route.
We camped on a shelf below the face and cooked with water dripping from the icicles on the wall. Our routine was to lead a pitch, fix ropes, and haul all the gear for the next day. Some leads took up to eight hours, and the climbing was made difficult by the cold, difficulty of protection, and the altitude.
Due to the cold, the last pitches were the hardest. My feet almost froze—they turned purple and swelled a lot. Without any good cracks through the steep upper roofs, I used a mix of free and aid climbing, placing pitons and nuts to keep moving. After climbing seven independent pitches in the center of the wall, we traversed right and joined Tierra de Condores [AAJ 2010] to reach the top of the wall, thus completing Ocho Amaneceres (“Eight Sunrises,” 500m, 8b A3). With sustained difficulties of 7a to 7c to overcome, we couldn’t free the hardest pitch. However, eight days away from civilization and any type of technology afforded us a great adventure.