Kasiri-Calzada Massif, Various Ascents

Bolivia, Cordillera Real
Author: Derek Buckle. Climb Year: 2015. Publication Year: 2016.

After acclimatizing in the Condoriri region, Hugh Alexander, Nick Berry, John da Silva, Rafal Malczyk, Ken Mulvany, Lili Mulvany, Peter Yuen, and I (leader) made the five-hour drive from La Paz to a camp by a series of small lagunas on the 5,070m (GPS) col between Calzada and Kasiri. Mining activity in the area has led to marked improvements to the rough road crossing the Kasiri-Calzada pass and, with care, it is now drivable using 4WD vehicles.The Kasiri-Calzada area is rarely visited, and there is little or no detailed record of the climbing achieved from the col, although it is unlikely that any of the neighboring summits and tops have been left untrodden. Since access from both sides of the col is so much easier nowadays, we considered it prudent to hire a camp guard for the whole of our stay. We saw several mule trains crossing the pass and, surprisingly, met one vehicle close to the col a little after 4 a.m., just as we started out on one of the climbs. One can only guess which of the two was more taken aback by the encounter.

Looking northwest across the Kasiri-Calzada Pass (with road) to (A) Kasiri Chico (5,542m); (B) Haucana (6,218m); (C) Ancohuma
(6,427m); (D) Peak 5,731m (the summit of Kasiri is hidden); (E) Peak 5,694m; and (F) Peak 5,662m.

On June 11, Ken and Lili completed a more or less direct route on the west face of Calzada (5,634m, AD+). They returned the same way, rappelling the steeper sections. John, Rafal, and I attempted the obvious north-northwest ridge (AD UIAA III). This attempt failed ca 50m short of the rocky summit, when a steep, uncompromising rock step barred further progress.

After an exploratory day, on the 13th John, Nick, Rafal, and I climbed directly up the southeast face of Peak 5,662m (map height; a southeastern outlier of the Kasiri group), until it was possible to cut right to the south-southeast ridge. Continuing along the ridge, we reached a foresummit (5,662m GPS, AD). From there a short traverse led to a second, higher top, Peak 5,694m (GPS), which was separated from the main Kasiri massif by a steep and substantial drop. We returned the same way.

On the 15th, having set sights on an interesting snow dome on the northeast ridge of Calzada, Ken and Lili traversed the boulderfield below Calzada to reach the north-northwest ridge, crossed it, and dropped down onto the northern glacier, which they crossed to a steep, slanting couloir (80° max) that gave access to Calzada's northeast ridge. From here they climbed up the northeast ridge as far as the snow dome (15°55.696'S, 68°27.059'W, AD+/D). Meanwhile, Nick, John, and I attempted the long northeast ridge of Kasiri Chico (5,542m), which we accessed via a steep snow gully rising from the valley running southeast from the ridge. Unsurprisingly, this was an unconsolidated shale ridge, but without technical difficulty until around one-third of the way up, when a steep tower at ca 5,300m blocked further safe progress. We retreated essentially the same way, except that one abseil allowed us to descend to the glacier a little before reaching the ascent couloir. Subsequently, various expedition members made ascents of Chachacomani, Huayna Potosi, and Illimani. Thanks to the Alpine Club Climbing Fund for financial support.

Derek Buckle, Alpine Club, U.K.

Editor's note: Calzada is perhaps best described as a massif rather than a single peak, and, in common with a number of mountain groups in Bolivia, it has an enigmatic mountaineering history. The Calzada generally designated on maps is perhaps best referred to as Calzada West (5,634m, as recorded by the 2015 British expedition). It is not the mountain referred to as Calzada I by Roland Hunter's British expedition, which made the first ascent in 1962. This higher peak, perhaps also known as Calzada Grande, has a map height of 5,843m and was surveyed in 1962 at 5,874m. Hunter's expedition also climbed four other subsidiary summits of the Calzada group.

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