Charquini, East Face: Felix el Titi, Jaguar Holocaust, and Coni's Dream
Bolivia, Cordillera Real
After making the first ascent of the east face of Charquini (5,392m) in 2017 with Sergio Condori (see AAJ 2018), I returned several times in 2018 to explore the potential of this small but attractive granite wall.
On May 2, Felix Leger, Jules Tusseau, and I followed an obvious line on the right side of the face in five pitches. This was generally no more than 5 in difficulty, except for a short section where we climbed around a little cave via a slightly overhanging crack before crossing an unprotected slab. I was able to free all this, but my two partners had to resort to aid, convincing me this section was probably around 6b. After pitch five, we short-roped up the ridge above and then descended the glaciated south face as night settled, rappelling twice. We named the route Felix el Titi (the “titi” being an Andean wild cat).
On June 28 I returned with Sergio Condori's brother Juvenal and found more snow than expected—the east face had almost cleared due to the morning sun it receives, but post-holing on the approach was a struggle. We followed another obvious line, just to the right (but completely independent) from our 2017 route, Juntos al Puma. The new route is the most challenging line so far on the face: sustained at 6a+, with several small overhangs that were quite "breathtaking" at over 5,000m with rucksacks and a trad rack. After six pitches of good granite, we scrambled to the top, dynamically belaying a few short sections. This time we descended the glacier that flows from the col north of the summit, thus avoiding any rappels and making the descent faster if a little longer. We named the route Jaguar Holocaust.
(In recent years, as Chinese influence and the number of Chinese nationals living and working in Bolivia have grown, Bolivian jaguars have faced increased threats. The trafficking of jaguars or possession of jaguar parts has been illegal for some time, but the teeth can be sold at great profit in China, where they are made into necklaces or traditional medicines. Smuggling has increased, and though there have been a number of arrests—in one case, in February 2018, two Chinese were caught in possession of nearly 200 jaguar fangs—it is reported that successful prosecutions have been slow to follow.)
On July 11, I returned for a third route, this time with two clients, Cornelia and Thomas. We followed a line through the middle of the face that wasn't so hard (5). It led into the offwidth pitch of Juntos al Puma, which Cornelia and Thomas found quite challenging. Cornelia suggested the route name Coni's Dream, as she had dreamed of climbing a new route sometime in her life.
All three routes were climbed clean, and a simple rack of cams from 00 to 4, enhanced with a set of nuts, was perfectly adequate.
– Alexander von Ungern, Andean Ascents, Bolivia