American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Atunraju and Other Peaks in the Chinchey group

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1968

Atunraju and other peaks in the Chinchey group, Cordillera Blanca. Three climbers left Spain by boat with 30 cases of food and equipment weighing about two tons. The rest of us flew to Peru. We all gathered in Huaraz on June 6. Coming from the Basque-Navarre section of Spain, we were Angel Landa, Angel Rosen, Rodolfo Kirch, Francisco Lusarreta, Luis María Sáez de Olazagoitia, Juan María Feliú and myself as leader. Our objectives were three unclimbed peaks which are called the Picos del Cóndor (Condor Peaks) by the natives. North of and connected to Chinchey, they are near the end of the Quebrada Honda above and southeast of Yanacocha. Having engaged the porters Felipe Mautino and Antonio Vargas, with the help of twenty donkeys we left Vicos on June 8 and a day and a half later set up Base Camp at 13,750 feet at the foot of the terminal moraine that dams Yanacocha (lake). In order to climb the smallest and most northerly of the three, which we called Uchurraju (17,881 feet; “red pepper peak”), we set up Camp I at 16,000 feet after two days of reconnaissance. On June 17 Feliú, Landa, Lusarreta and Sáez de Olazagoitia left Camp I at seven p.m. to avoid avalanche danger and reached the summit at midnight by the very steep southwest face. The central peak we called Ayukarraju (18,527 feet “snowy steel needle”); and found it the most difficult technically. We left the same Camp I and established Camp II at 16,750 feet. After spending several days fixing ropes to cross a barrier of séracs which kept us from the north ridge, Kirch, Landa, Lusarreta and Rosen left Camp II at one a.m. on June 30 and reached the summit at 9:30 by the north ridge, where they found bad snow. The highest peak, which we called Atunraju (19,643 feet; “big snow peak”), required two different high camps: Camp I at 15,600 feet on the moraine below Chinchey’s plateau glacier and Camp II at 18,000 feet on the southwest slopes of Atunraju, which was reached by climbing a rock buttress northwest of Pucaranra. From Camp I we had made several earlier attempts directly east from Camp I north of the route we finally took. The assault was made by the whole expedition, which left Camp II at three a.m. on July 20. After battling against very varied snow conditions, at noon we reached the south ridge at 19,000 feet and continued along it in powder snow, passing over dangerous cornices to reach the summit at four p.m. On June 26 we had climbed from Base Camp in five hours the 17,454-foot peak, Chaco, not a first ascent. (Editor’s note: The New York Times of September 26 stated the following: “Last week seven Basque mountain climbers, previously hailed as heroes, were arrested. On scaling one of the peaks in the Peruvian Alps last summer, it was charged, they had unfurled not Spain’s flag but the Basque national flag.”) Juan Ignacio Lorente Z., Federación Vasco-Navarra de Montañismo

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