American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Charquini, East Face, Juntos al Puma

Bolivia, Cordillera Real

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Alexander von Ungern
  • Climb Year: 2017
  • Publication Year: 2018

On March 12, I circumnavigated Charquini (5,392m) on skis and spotted interesting steep granite on the “hidden” east face. While this face is visible from the popular Choro Trail (an ancient paved Inca road), most people are descending the trail at this point and Charquini is behind them. Most of the climbing activity in the broad Charquini massif is located on the southwest and south faces. As far as I know, the rocky east face was unclimbed.

Sergio Condori and I returned on May 16, leaving the car at sunrise at the Eco Albergue of Pampalarama, southeast of the mountain. The approach took longer than expected, but we were happy to spot fresh puma tracks on the disappearing glacier between Wila Manquilisani and Charquini. We started climbing around 9 a.m. at 16°17'57"S, 68°5'48"W. The first pitch was the crux (6a+) and also provided the worst rock quality of the route. The next three pitches, still steep and sustained, were really enjoyable, with solid protection.

As the slope eased, we decided to head for the eastern summit, at roughly 5,300m, by a combination of short-roping and quick belays on steeper sections. After a brief picnic, interrupted by the threat of lightning that caused my trekking pole to "sing," we rappelled the snow-covered south face.

– Alexander von Ungern, Andean Ascents, Bolivia

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