American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Jampa II, West Face

Peru, Cordillera Vilcanota

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Duncan McDaniel
  • Climb Year: 2018
  • Publication Year: 2019

In August, my wife, Vahitiare Beltrami, Simon Schonemann-Poppeliers, and I traveled to the Andean village of Pacchanta, where we met our compadres, the Crispin family, to climb some nearby peaks. We spent 10 days in the area, from August 17 to August 26, and attempted three climbs. August usually falls in the middle of the dry season in the Cordillera Vilcanota; this year, the dry season never arrived in Peru, which meant very difficult conditions.

On the 21st we attempted Caracol (5,625m) from a base camp below Jampa but turned around at the Tinki-Caracol col when we encountered chest-deep snow and whiteout conditions. After a rest day, Simon and I made the first known ascent of north ridge of Parcocaya (5,290m) on the 23rd (see link) and returned to Pacchanta.

On the 24th, I returned to the mountains with Luis and Macario Crispin and one packhorse. Our sights were set on the aesthetic pyramid Jampa II (ca 5,650m). Jampa II is the highest summit of the Jampa massif. (Locals sometimes refer to it as “Juana Sucapana,” but I have also seen this name used to describe the rocky summit northeast of Mariposa. Ed: This group was also referred to as Campa through the 1980s.) This peak was first climbed by its north couloir in 1953 by the German-Austrian team that also made the first ascents of Jampa, Ausangate (standard route from south), Colque Cruz, and Cayangate (northwest icefall to northeast face). This route was repeated in 1966 by a group of Germans (who also made the first ascent of northwest face of Ausangate), and more recently by locals Lixayda Vasquez and Alfredo Zuniga in 2014, the last known ascent of the peak.

We approached via the moraine west of camp to gain the glacier and the west face. After a simple ascent of the glacier, a short rock step led to a 75° ice ramp and, finally, to a foresummit atop a sharp ridge, which then descends for 50m and bridges the foresummit to the slopes under the summit headwall. This ridge is hidden when viewing the peak and provided the key passage for our route: an exposed, downward traverse over snow and loose rocks. From here, a single pitch upward on poor rock connected us with the upper snow slopes. Once at the headwall, we decided to climb a steep, mixed chimney on the right side. This was the best pitch of the climb—sustained, with cool stemming and solid ice (M4). After this, I led an extremely delicate pitch of loose snow plastered over a rock slab (85°) to the summit ridge. The clouds from the jungle had finally caught up with us. At around 12:30 p.m. we took turns climbing the final 5m to the highest point.The three of us made our camp next to a clear glacial lagoon about 1km southwest of the normal Jampa base camp. We awoke at 2 a.m. on August 25 to thunderstorms barraging the jungle to the east. Our day started earnestly, knowing we would be racing those same clouds to the summit.

We began our descent in a whiteout, making one rappel down the top of the north couloir and then downclimbing and rappelling our route of ascent. On our fifth and final rappel, our rope got caught and we lost about two hours freeing it. We reached our camp at about 8 p.m. and, after resting for an hour, decided to continue on to Pacchanta.

This was likely the first ascent of the west face of Jampa II (600m, D AI3 M4 85°). Our route was very enjoyable and provided amazing views of the Vilcanota. I would recommend it to anyone looking to climb something more technical than Jampa (5,500m). It also was special to share this ascent with the Crispin brothers. Luis and Macario grew up herding their alpaca below these mountains, dreaming of what it would be like to grace their summits. Even though they have only been climbing for about five years, they have amassed an incredible list of difficult summits, including Yerupaja, Salkantay, Cayangate, Ausangate, Huantsan, and Veronica­; accordingly, they’ve been noted in the AAJ many times. They are arguably two of the most accomplished Peruvian mountaineers in history, but few are familiar with their accomplishments.

– Duncan McDaniel, USA

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