NEW ROUTING IN THE CORDILLERA BLANCA

Posted on: August 6, 2007


Con Ojeras Debajo de Ojos Vidriosos (5.10+ C2, 180m), Ishik Ulloc, Quebrada Ishinca, Cordillera Blanca, Peru, pioneered by Alexander Schmalz-Friedberger and Michael Zettelmeyer in late June. A day later the party's other rope team, Hans-Martin Troebs and Marc Wolff, climbed Compania Vertical (7b, 6b obl., 200m) on Hatun Ulloc's pre-summit (4600m), a new line nearby on the middle of the peak's east face. "Con Ojeras Debajo de Ojos Vidriosos means 'Bags under Glassy Eyes,'" Wolff said. "It was Michael's state when they summited. He threw up during the night and didn't sleep before their summit attempt." [Photo] Courtesy Alexander Schmalz-Friedberger

On June 13, Alexander Schmalz-Friedberger, Michael Zettelmeyer and I, all from Germany, set off for Peru's Cordillera Blanca to climb La Esfinge (5325m), and to scout for new route potential. Hans-Martin Troebs, whose climbing partners bailed on an attempt to climb a 6000-meter peak, soon joined our team.

Two sub-teams formed; Hans-Martin and I climbed Routa Normal '85 (5.11c, 5.10c obl., 750m) on La Esfinge while Alexander and Michael stayed behind. Mountain sickness had forced Alexander to stay in camp, and after his second day of sickness he decided to return to our friend's luxurious lodging in Huaraz. After a day of rest, Michael and I climbed Cruz del Sur (7a+, 800m, Bole-Karo, 2000) on the east face of La Esfinge with a planned bivy. We onsighted all but the crux section (Pitch 3) to arrive on the broad rock band above Pitch 10 where we prepared for a bivy above 5000 meters, lit by the full moon. Sadly, moderate winds became strong during the night. The next morning we climbed a straight crack above the bivy ledge that brought us on track with Routa Normal '85 again. Battered by the wind and cold, we decided not to abseil to find the correct continuation to Cruz del Sur. Instead we continued on the familiar exit pitches of Routa Normal '85.

One week later, our team traveled from Paron Valley to Quebrada Ishinca, a valley in the middle of the range well known for its mountain trio—Nevado Urus (5495m), Nevado Ishinca (5530m) and Nevado Tocllaraju (6032m). On our acclimatization tour we already had scanned the Hatun Ulloc massif with binoculars. Setting up camp where Wayne Crill and Kevin Gallagher were camped when they established Karma de los Condores (5.11+, 400m), Hans-Martin and I decided to attempt a promising line on the middle of the east face of Hatun Ulloc, while Alexander and Michael concentrated on its right neighbor, Ishik Ulloc.

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After four days of laboriously gardening in the overhanging cracks of the east face, Alexander and Michael arrived at the south summit. They called the route Con Ojeras Debajo de Ojos Vidriosos (5.10+ C2, 180m); it shares the final pitch with Lawak, a Mexican team's route from 2005 that starts on the west face and ends in the same chimney as Con Ojeras, between the two summits of Ishik Ulloc.

Wolff (in red) and Troebs (in blue) on the Pitch 2 crux, going for the redpoint of Compania Vertical (7b, 6b obl., 200m). Their fixed line from two days before is still visible, and to the left is the roof-crack crux of Karma de los Condores (5.11+, 400m), on the south face. [Photo] Courtesy of Alexander Schmalz-Friedberger

The next day, after five days of climbing, Hans-martin and I made the summit of Hatun Ulloc. We climbed the middle of the east face on the peak's 4600-meter high pre-summit. Our new line, Compania Vertical (7b, 6b obl., 200m), is gained via the first three pitches of Karma, to the rightmost of the vegetated rock band, where it traverses around the overhanging arete. It begins under a big roof that leads into an arete that skirts a deep chimney and leads onto the east face. The rest of the route works up steep and enjoyable black and orange granite on increasingly large flake features. We hand-placed all bolts on lead (four for protection, twelve for belays) and had to clean very little vegetation from the line for gear, a relief after hearing about Alexander and Michael's adventure.

Apart from its superb freeclimbing, the route now also serves as a perfect abseil piste for those who wish to climb Karma. The abseil piste ends in the gully under the east face, where one more rappel leads to the ground.

We would like to thank Claudio "Osi" Franzisko de la Vega of Compania Vertical for his unsurpassed help with logistics and beta, and the Biwakschachtel for sponsoring the trip.

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