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South America, Bolivia, Condoriri Group, Huallomen, Southwest Face, Bon Anniversaire Annick

Condoriri Group, Huallomen, southwest face, Bon Anniversaire Annick. In 2001 I spent a few days climbing in the well-known Condoriri group near La Paz. The snow/ice conditions were very good considering we were there at the end of July. With a friend, Martin Imgrüth, I climbed a route on Huallomen’s southwest face that would appear to be a first ascent. It is an obvious line cutting through the rock face. When I talked about it with the guides in La Paz no one could tell me if it had already been climbed. The best information I managed to get was from Jose Camarlinghi, of Andean Summits, who told me that it was previously a Bolivian guide’s project that he didn’t complete. Jose said he hadn’t seen this line in such good condition for many years.

After walking 20 minutes up the Tajira glacier we turned left to reach the base of the triangular face. To get to the bottom of the line we climbed a snowy couloir for 200- to 250-meters. The first pitch followed a diagonal ramp, from left to right, leading to a chimney. We belayed with two pegs at the base of the chimney. We climbed the vertical chimney (UIAAIV+) on poor rock and then a thinly iced gully to belay on friends. Following up the gully it steepens to 75-80 degrees and then a snow wall of 85- 90 degrees. Belay on ice screws. The gully continues with good ice then a very steep mixed section. Belay on cams. From there the ascent became easier up a gentle snow couloir leading to a section of poor rock. After this last rope length the couloir continued for 150-200 meters only interrupted by a little mixed section. The last difficulty is a poor rock chimney (UIAA IV) leading to a saddle. From there the view is very impressive. We then followed the saddle ridge to the base of a rock tower that we avoided to the right by an easy section that leads to the upper slopes of the normal route. We descended by the normal route after reaching the end of these slopes having decided not to follow the ridge to the true summit of Huallomen. This route is about nine rope lengths from the start of the diagonal traverse to the saddle. We found poor rock sections, poor and thin ice, steep snow sections, and very little in the way of good protection except at the belays. All this made the ascent a bit exposed, although the hardest sections are not very long. No material was left on the route. With more ice and less snow it could be easier to protect. We called this route Bon Anniversaire Annick.

To the left of the start of the route (traverse) there is an ice line going up to the left which seems to have been climbed. We found the hole left by a snow-stake at the top of the last chimney (saddle). That led me to think that those who climbed it carried on by the upper part of the line we climbed. From the base it seems the easier and more obvious way to finish this ascent.

Jacques Pahud, Switzerland