American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Cayesh, West Face, Chilean Route

Peru, Cordillera Blanca

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Sergio Ramírez Carrascal
  • Climb Year: 2015
  • Publication Year: 2016

In July, Chilean climbers Jimmy Mora and Francisco Rojas climbed a partial new route on the west face of Cayesh (5,720m). The duo began on July 18 from the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca. On July 20 the climbers spent the day at a high camp scoping the wall, which was in excellent condition. They saw one nearly complete line of ice rising to the left across the face, beginning on the Slo-Am Route (House-Prezelj, AAJ 2006) and eventually trending up and slightly right to finish on the upper portion of the British Route (Gore-Moore, AAJ 1987), on the upper left (northwest) part of the wall and summit ridge. Their route was made possible in part due to the absence of a large, hanging serac that had fallen off the wall.

On July 21, at 4 a.m., Mora and Rojas left their camp. By 6 a.m. they had climbed the first “real” pitch, after ascending two initial pitches on snow. These first technical pitches ascend the lower part of a major couloir and dihedral system in the center of the west face; to this point the route is same as the Slo-Am Route. Above this, they headed left across a ramp into mostly new terrain, where three pitches of ice and mixed climbing brought them to a steep wall of bad ice. [It’s possible one pitch in this section shared terrain with the 1986 British Route, and this is also where the route crosses the path of the Amow-Fowler 1988 route (AAJ 1989).] They climbed this ice directly, which was very exposed and difficult; two pitches brought them to a rock wall. Here, they traversed hard left across ice and then back right across ice and mixed terrain, reaching a belay on the left margin of the face below large cornices. At this point, Mora and Rojas continued climbing up and somewhat right on mixed terrain to reach another ice wall in good condition. Around noon, they found a small ledge where they could sit, drink tea, and rest. Above this, they climbed two pitches up very steep snow, ascending through cornices to reach the summit ridge. They continued up the ridge for three pitches through dangerous cornices, using body belays, and reached the summit after 23 hours of climbing, at approximately 3 a.m. on July 22.

The climbers waited in a snow cave on the summit for dawn and then descended in the vicinity of the German and Czech routes (AAJ 1989) on the center-right side of the west face. The Chilean Route (MD+ WI5 M6 70o) had about 16 pitches; approximately half of these were on previously unclimbed terrain.

Sergio Ramírez Carrascal, Peruwith information from Jimmy Mora & Francisco Rojas, Chile

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