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Nevado Allinccapac, West Shoulder, and Historical Clarifications

Peru, Cordillera Carabaya

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Nathan Heald
  • Climb Year: 2016
  • Publication Year: 2017

In early July, I spent a week in the remote Cordillera Carabaya (see linked report). Our objective was the highest in the range, Nevado Allinccapac (5,780m, sometimes spelled Allincapac), which has had only a handful of ascents. However, after seeing the unclimbed south face up close, we decided it would be too much for us.

Allinccapac remained in the back of my mind until October, when I returned with two friends from Cusco, Luis Crispin and Coqui Galvez. On October 6, from the hostel in Macusani, we took a taxi to the lake below Allinccapac, and by the afternoon reached a high camp (5,200m) on the western shoulder.

On October 7, we left the tent around 2 a.m., heading for a line up the shoulder, where glacial ice is still prominent. After a pitch of WI3, we gained a lower-angle platform that led us to a prominent rock band. A couple of short pitches of easy climbing and traversing led us to the summit ice cap. Here, two rope lengths of WI2/3 gave way to the broad summit plateau, on which we walked for 300m to the highest point. We were on the summit at 8:15 a.m., with the GPS reading 5,837m. We descended our route, rappelling the rock band from a piton and sling and then the initial ice pitch, from a V-thread, to regain the glacier.

After this trip, local climber Renzo Leon reported that he and Angel Perez climbed Allinccapac on June 19, 2008. Their route appears to be similar to ours, if not the same, and is confirmed by a summit photo.

Additionally, I have two corrections for the 2008 U.K. Alpine Journal article “Frost, Dust, and Tear Gas: Exploratory Mountaineering in the Peruvian Cordillera Carabaya.” First, it appears that the 1960 first ascent of Allinccapac did not reach the summit “via a short, steep couloir on the west side,” as the article states, but rather from the east side. The article incorrectly places the team’s high camp west of Allinccapac; in fact, the team initially approached from the south and then wrapped around the peak clockwise to the north, passing the west col first—a ridge blocks the counter-clockwise approach. The team noted Huaynaccapac (5,715m) was just north of their high camp, which locates them in the basin between Allinccapac, Twin Peaks, and Cornice on the northeast side of Allinccapac. The east side of Allinccapac would have been the “fourth” side of the mountain they saw from this approach, as noted in AAJ 1961.

Second, Chequilla, the peak between Cornice and Tower, was reported unclimbed in this article; however, the New Zealand Alpine Club reached this summit on July 3, 1967 (Goodfellow-McKenzie, AAJ 1968).

– Nathan Heald, Peru

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