FIRST ASCENT OF SIULA CHICO'S WEST FACE

Posted on: July 11, 2007


The west face of Siula Chico (6265m), Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru, showing the first ascent of the peak's west face (VI ED3 AI5+R A2, 900m), climbed in alpine style by Jordi Corominas and Oriol Baro in May. In June they traveled to Cordillera Blanca and established two other lines, Turbera (TD+ M5 A1, 1200m) and Monstro Africano (V/6 ED, 800m). [Photo] Oriol Baro collection

Spanish alpinists Jordi Corominas (49) and Oriol Baro (27) made their mark in Peru's Cordillera Huayhuash by sending, in alpine style, the unclimbed west face of Siula Chico (6265m) via a committing 900-meter line (VI ED3 AI5+R A2) in May. The peak has only one other recorded ascent, which was made by traversing the ridge from Siula Grande (6344m). In June the pair managed two other new climbs, also in alpine style, in Cordillera Blanca.

Siula Chico's west face had been attempted by accomplished teams three times prior. The wall stopped Mick Fowler and Simon Yates in 1998, then shut down Corominas and Jordi Tosas in 2003. The latter pair attempted a slight variation to the left in 2005 but were unable to crack the wall. Corominas returned for his third trip with Baro, a climbing partner from their native Pyrenees, in May.

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Jordi Corominas working up the steep and thin ice of Siula Chico's previously unclimbed west face (VI ED3 AI5+R A2, 900m), Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru. Corominas and Baro's seven-day push was likely the mountain's second ascent. [Photo] Oriol Baro collection

The ascent took Corominas and Baro ten days roundtrip from basecamp in Cutatambo, near Laguna Jurau. The seven days of climbing involved excellent and steep ice; some portions were difficult to protect, particularly the ice crux between the team's third and fourth bivies. The aid sections they encountered on days one and two also proved heady, Baro said. He added that "the greatest difficulty is to sleep, since there are no ledges on the face... it is also dangerous after midday because of rock and ice fall. You need very good logistics."

Steep bliss on the unclimbed south face of Nevado Copa (6188m), Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Baro, pictured here, and Corominas climbed the 800-meter wall (V/6 ED) to the ridge at 6050 meters in a day, then descended. [Photo] Oriol Baro collection

In June they proceeded to make another first ascent, on the northeast face of Nevado Huascaran Sur (6768m), over four days. The last two bivies—on the ridge and on the descent—were complicated to establish due to the nature of the crests and seracs plaguing the line. They made it down safely on the third day, having established Turbera (TD+ M5 A1, 1200m). Later in the month, after a two-day approach from Huaraz, they worked up 800 meters of virgin V/6 ED ice and rock on the south face of Nevado Copa (6188m) in a single push. They stopped at the ridgeline (6050m), having climbed through six particularly difficult pitches, the last of which involved 40 meters of very steep ice. They named their progress on the face Mostro Africano.

A well-versed mountaineer, Corominas is best known for making the second ascent of K2's (8611m) Magic Line, arguably the mountain's most technical, in 2004; with Baro in 2006, he also made it to 7300 meters up new terrain on Gasherbrum IV (7925m). After a few big parties, Baro said, the pair will begin planning a trip to Patagonia.

Sources: Oriol Baro, Carlo Caccia, www.intotherocks.net, Nicholas Middleton

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