Rajuntay, Northeast Face; Rajuntay Norte, Northeast Couloir
Peru, Cordillera Central
The Cordillera de la Viuda is a subrange of the Cordillera Central (see Alpine Journal 2000 for more details about the area). With many 5,000m peaks and moderate climbing, it is an interesting place for exploration and climbing. The highest summit is Rajuntay (5,477m), a beautiful, technical mountain.
On May 1, Steve Meder (France/Peru) and his Peruvian porters Antonio and Jorge Chinchay ascended the Quebrada Uco beneath the slopes of Nevado Uco, at the head of the Rímac river. They camped at 4,930m below the unclimbed northeast face of Rajuntay.
The next day, with doubtful weather, Meder began climbing alone up the northeast face in the early morning. Near the bottom, at a 5m vertical rock and ice step, he left a piton for his descent. He then continued up steep, rocky terrain to reach a 45º snow couloir. Eventually, he traversed right and ascended another 40–50° snow slope. This brought him to a short rock ridge and the summit. He describes this route as being much easier than the peak’s technical west ridge, which he attempted the year prior.
On May 3, Meder attempted an independent, unclimbed summit located along Rajuntay’s north ridge called Rajuntay Norte (ca 5,400m, a.k.a. Pequeño Rajuntay). He ascended a 45–55° couloir comprised of hard ice, a feature he had seen from a prior ascent of Nevado Uco. Around 5,350m, he self-belayed up a steeper section (60° M3) to reach a ridge and what he thought was the summit. However, after later studying the photos, he came to believe another top was higher and he made a plan to return.
In early June, Meder was joined once more by Antonio and Jorge Chinchay for a return to Rajuntay Norte. On June 5, he scouted the route and snow conditions, and the next day he began his climb alone at 5 a.m. and reached the true summit four and a half hours later. The route up the northeast couloir is 350m, D 70º M3.
– Marcelo Scanu, Argentina