Climbing in Cordillera Blanca 

Climbing in Cordillera Huayhuash 


On December 24th, 2002 Cordillera Huayhuash was declared a natural reserve by the Peruvian government. The mountain range is located on the central Andean region of Peru , where the states of Ancash, Huanuco and Lima converge. It is thirty kilometers long south to north and ten kilometers wide east to west, thereby forming the Peruvian western mountain range. Six of its peaks are over 6,000 m. (19,680 ft.) high, 15 other summits are over 5,500 m. (18,040 ft.) high and some others are over 5,200 m. (17,056 ft.) high. Yerupaja, the highest in the Cordillera at 6,634 m. (21,760 ft.) is the second highest mountain in the Peruvian Andes and the highest spot in the vast Amazon Basin.

Those of us who are acquainted with this wild, enigmatic mountain range will coincide in expressing our deepest admiration for these spots, unique in the world. It has allowed us to watch in amazement as its beauty and magic rises from remote valleys as if attempting to touch the heavens with imposing, vertical glacial walls. Here, we find an abundance of great rock, snow and ice walls as well as mixed vertical couloirs, but that's not all! Reaching the foot of these challenging mountainous walls entails crossing a long, difficult and unstable icy mess or at best, avoiding it by climbing vertical granite edges; a feat even for an extreme climber. Climbing here is not a simple matter at all. Just thinking about crowning some of these beautiful peaks sends chills down our spines, since all the main summits on this mountain range present great difficulty. This high level of difficulty, in addition to the remote location, makes the situation even more compromising. Even so, these circumstances were not obstacles for climbers with nerves of steel who accomplished great feats, successfully conquering some of these summits.

Similar achievements brought this enchanted, magical place before the eyes of the world, when in the thirties, some of the most famous climbers in the world and their large expeditions, carried out the first ascents with the aim of conquering those inaccessible and apparently impossible mountains. Expeditions such as the ones headed by Riccardo Cassin, Walter Bonatti, Toni Egger, Reinhold Messner, J.C Maxwell, Jordi Pons, E. Schneider, raced against the clock, difficulties and danger. The best mountain climbers in the world bravely faced adverse weather conditions. Many of them have made history in this sport due to their motivation and technique in these mountains. Like these living legends of mountain climbing history, audacious groups of Americans, British, Polish, Japanese as well as climbers of other nationalities, have challenged these mountains, thereby increasing the number of routes.

Among the most noteworthy records in the MOUNTCLIMB TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE files, we should mention Dr. Nicolas Jaegger's incredible ascents, which seem taken out of fiction . He climbed alone, following an amazing schedule. He would leave before the break of dawn and would return at dinnertime with another ascent to his credit. If this seems incredible, Joe Simpson's story while on Siula Grande, will be even more so. It was a true feat of survival. After having climbed and reached the summit by the west face, while descending the dangerous southeast ridge, Simpson had a fall and broke one of his legs. He mustered up courage in spite of the pain and fatigue to continue his desperate descent with his rope partner, Yanes. They were able descend successfully down considerable stretch of the mountain until Simpson was left hanging in mid-air, while his partner was forced to bear Simpson's entire weight. Eventually, Yanes had no choice but to cut the rope holding him to Simpson. He plunged rapidly and there was nothing to break his disastrous fall. He crashed into a glacial ramp leading to an enormous opening in a crevasse. While Yanes thought about his partner's imminent death, Simpson endured a three-day long ordeal during which he fought to survive, dragging himself on his broken leg until he finally reached the basecamp where his partners were, as they were getting ready to leave. This story obtained a literary award and became a best-seller entitled Touching the Void . These settings bore silent witness to events such as these.






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