American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Nevado Sirijuani, northwest face

Peru, Cordillera Urubamba

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Nathan Heald
  • Climb Year: 2015
  • Publication Year: 2015

On January 4, 2015 Eduardo Baca (Peru), Dermot O’Kelly-Lynch (USA), and I left Cusco by car, en route to Calca in the Sacred Valley. We picked up Jorge “Coqui” Galvez and Yjeguel Camasa (both Peru) and continued to the town of Quiswarani (ca 4,000m), where we spent the night. On January 5 we began our approach to Nevado Sirijuani (5,400m) and camped at ca 4,900m in the valley above and right (west) of Quiswarani. The next day we followed an alpaca-herding trail through a glacial ravine, which brought us to the moraine below the north side of the mountain. We camped on the edge of the moraine and waited for a chance to see the mountain—it had been raining and snowing all day. Luckily I had studied photos of this side of the peak, so I knew where to access the glacier.

By 2 a.m. on January 7 it had cleared a bit. We hiked through the moraine to the west side of the north face, where a steep glacier pours down between the northwest and west ridges. Some unroped climbing brought us onto the glacier, where we traversed up and right in the direction of the west ridge in knee-deep snow (45°). Eventually the glacier steepened, with ice up to 70° and large crevasses. We traversed rightward under a rock band and Dermot decided to stop there and wait for the rest of us to return.

Above the rock band, the crux of the route involved a 150m ice wall (60-70°) under a large but stable serac. After topping out on this section, the summit plateau was revealed between parting clouds. We navigated a couple of crevasses on a 55° snow slope and arrived at the summit around 10 a.m., having completed the northwest face (AD 70°). To descend the technical sections of the route, most our team rappelled while I downclimbed and cleaned gear. We made it back to the tent at 3 p.m. and back to Quiswarani by 6:30 p.m. [Editor’s note: Nevado Sirijuani has a few other known routes: A Scottish team climbed the northeast ridge and southeast face in 1964 (Alpine Journal 1965), and the east face was climbed by an Italian team (AAJ 1977).]

Nathan Heald, Peru

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