Chañi Massif, Recent Developments

Argentina, Andes
Author: Marcelo Scanu. Climb Year: N/A. Publication Year: 2019.

Chañi massif from the east. (A) Nevado Chañi (5,949m). (B) Morro Von Rosen. (C) Pico Nordenskiöld. (D) Chañi Chico.

Chañi is a sacred mountain, the highest in Argentina’s Jujuy Province at 5,949m (24°03’S, 65°44’W).
It was first climbed by the Incas, who sacrificed a little boy on its summit. His body was found in 1905 and his remains deposited in a museum in Buenos Aires. An old Inca route leads to a military refuge below the massif, whose east- and south-facing walls have extensive rock climbing on orange granite.

During two weeks in November 2016, Argentine climbers Negro Jerez, Ignacio Karlen, and Carlitos Torino and Chileans Nicolás and Nicole Valderrama and Papeliyo were active in this area. The two teams made multiple first ascents of smaller spires in the area including Aguja Janajman (5,151m) via Wash ‘n’ Go (250m, 6b) and Aguja Chilena (5,050m, 100m, 6a+). The next day, the Argentines did the first ascent of Aguja Iñaki Coussirat, named in honor of a friend who had died on Fitz Roy, opening San Percutori (230m, 6b+) with an offwidth as the crux. They then waited out many stormy days, during which the group cleaned and improved the military shelter.

On their 10th day in the area, in unstable weather, the Argentines established a new route on the east face of Pico Nordenskiöld (5,470m). Their line linked three needle-like features interspersed with bits of scrambling. On the first needle, Aguja Julio Altamirano, they climbed five pitches with a crux chimney and an overhang that they rated 7a. They descended to a col and continued by climbing the next needle, Aguja Flor de Pupusa, encountering nice plated rock with 6b cracks for three pitches. From the top of Aguja Flor de Pupusa, they crossed the col to Aguja Intihuasi and climbed three pitches of moderate terrain to its summit. Above here, they took the easiest route due to deteriorating weather, finding sections up to 5+ and 6a. Toward the top, the rock quality decreased and it began to snow, causing them to stop short of the summit of Nordenskiöld. In a violent storm they quickly descended along the ridge to the south and descended a scree gully between Pico Nordenskiöld and Morro Von Rosen. They freed nearly the entire route, which they called Providencia (ca 1,000m, 11 pitches, 7a).

During the same time, the Chileans climbed Morro Von Rosen (5,450m) by a variation of Qhapac Ñan, a line that was established by Matías Cruz and Facundo Juárez Zapiola earlier in 2016. Their route, Variante Antofaya, involved seven pitches up to 6b.

In November 2018, a group of Argentine and French climbers opened various new routes in the Chañi massif. Argentines Martin López Abad and Martin Molina along with French climber Maud Vanpoulle, ascended a needle southeast of Morro Von Rosen, which they thought was virgin but afterwards discovered had been climbed by Martín Altamirano and Martín Castillo in 2011 (see AAJ 2012). The group more or less followed the 2011 line on the lower part of the climb but made a significant and more direct 6c variation on the upper section. They named this Bebe Cóndor Vuela (500m, 6c) after the condors that live in the area.

Their next objective was the south pillar of Chañi Chico (5,571m), one of the longest and steepest walls in the area. They followed a system of cracks with difficulties up to 7a. The rock quality was splendid, apart from the top section. To descend, they walked to the west toward the Morro Von Rosen cirque and then made one rappel to a point where they were able to easily downclimb. They named their route Coca, Hypoxia y Carnavalito (600m, 7a) for the culture of northern Argentina. The next day another group of Argentines (Karlen, Torino, and Pepe de la Cuesta) opened a route slightly to the left of their line and found climbing up to 6c.

Before bad weather put an end to the trip, López Abad teamed up with Vanpoulle and opened two lines of approximately 130m next to the military refuge, grading both around 6b.

– Marcelo Scanu, Argentina

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