Masarau Noda and I (both from Japan) climbed two routes in the Cordillera Huayhuash in June, achieving a first and second ascent.
We first acclimatized in the Cordillera Blanca, climbing Pirámide de Garcilaso (5,885m) by the southwest face (Renshaw-Wilkinson, 1979, 800m, TD+ WI5 AI4+). The climb took us 18 hours round-trip from the bottom of the face. We returned to Huaraz and took the fastest approach to Puscanturpa and Trapecio, at the southern end of the Cordillera Huayhuash, starting from the village of Cajatambo.
On June 15 and 16 we opened a new route up Puscanturpa Este (5,410m), via the southeast face, in lightweight style. The steeper lower part of the climb began with excellent rock; however, the upper snowfields transgressed into steep sugar snow and loose rock. This time-consuming effort caused us to endure a cold sitting bivy at ca 5,300m. On the second day we finished climbing the easy-angled upper slopes and the upper headwall, reaching the summit midmorning. We called our route Qiumplirgun Swerminganta (700m, ED+ VII M5+ A1), which means “dreams come true” in the local Quechuan language. [This is likely the fourth ascent of the peak, following ascents of the north ridge (1986), the east face (AAJ 2008), and the north face (AAJ 2013).]
We then made a base camp at the lake (ca 4,750m) below Trapecio (5,644m). On June 24 we climbed Trapecio’s southeast face, via the rightmost couloir, right of the Slovenian route (Ivanek-Kozjek-Lamprecht-Monasterio, AAJ 2006), believing it to be a new line. We later learned it had been climbed previously (Fernandez-Pita, AAJ 2008, see Editor’s Note below). We encountered 50–70° snow and ice slopes in the lower part, with a crux section of steep ice and loose mixed climbing near the top of the face (AI6 M5+). We reached the summit in 14 hours and bivied on the descent at ca 5,200m, concerned we’d rappel the wrong route in the dark. We resumed our descent in the warmth of the sun the next morning.
I had lost 10 fingers and toes during an alpine-style ascent of the north face of Gyachung Kang (7,952m) in 2002, so I’m happy for these successes.
[Editor’s note: The 700m southeast face of Trapecio contains three prominent couloirs. The leftmost had been climbed twice to a junction with the south spur (Ferraro-Malvassora-Dionisi, AAJ 1975—not to be confused with the Italian route on the southwest spur; see AAJ 1979 & AAJ 1980 for more info on the latter): in 1986 by Jim Donini and Jack Tackle, and then again in 1997 by four French, who thought the route unclimbed and named it Rouflaquette Nationale (650m, TD+ WI5+). As of 2013 this line up the first couloir has not been completed to the summit.
The central couloir was famously soloed by Jeff Lowe in 1985. Lowe reported difficult climbing with ice smears through the top rock barrier, providing three demanding pitches (WI6+). From the top of the face, Lowe did not continue up the remaining 250m of seemingly straightforward ground to the summit, but instead rappelled. In 2003 two Peruvians climbed to Lowe’s high point but also retreated, and it was left to Slovenians Branko Ivanek, Pavle Kozjek, and Miha Lamprecht, together with Peruvian resident Aritza Monasterio, to complete the route to the summit. Facing dry conditions, they were forced to take a short variation and found difficult climbing up to A2, M5, and WI5/6, giving the route an overall grade of ED3 (Southeast Face Direct, AAJ 2006).
As for the rightmost couloir, the Japanese climbers were unaware of a remarkable ascent in 2006, when Spanish climbers José Manuel Fernandez and Miguel Angel Pita climbed this line to the summit snow slopes at V/4+, with the final pitch being an 85° icefall. They decided to descend their line without visiting the summit, and on the fourth rappel a snow stake pulled and Fernandez fell to his death, taking the ropes with him. With no way down, Pita sat on a small, icy ledge for 12 hours and then climbed un-roped back to the summit, subsequently descending the northwest ridge. Pita named the route Los Viejos Roqueros Nunca Mueren (Old Rock Climbers Never Die, AAJ 2008). Noda and Yamanoi did the first known repeat ascent.]