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Taulliraju, East Face

Tadej Golob on the GMHM Route (TD+: WI4+ M4, 400m, Gleizes-Gryska-Prom, 1987), Taulliraju (5830m), Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Golob, Matej Flis and Grega Lacen used the route to approach the east face, where they established El Centelleo (VI 6b M6+, 700m). It is unclear how much their line differed from the 2002 attempt by Mark Richey and Aritza Monasterio, which reached a pitch and half below the summit.
[Photo] Grega Lacen

Riding a bike three days from Carhuaz (2650m) to Punta Olimpica (4890m) sounded like a fast and simple method of acclimatization. Two hours after Matej Flis, Tadej Golob and I departed, though, I realized once more there are no shortcuts in alpinism.

Our objective was an alpine-style ascent up the unclimbed center of Taulliraju’s south face. Aware of the serious difficulties before us, we brought all kinds of gear, but by daybreak on the first pitch, it was clear that we wouldn’t be able to make our way over the powder-covered granite.

Thus we pared down our equipment for the GMHM Route (TD+: WI4+ M4, 400m, Gleizes-Gryska-Prom, 1987), which we hoped to use to access the start of the east face, where we would attempt a new line. The GMHM Route surprised us with a variety of conditions. At nightfall we bivied on a comfortable shelf on the top of the buttress. The following day we continued along the Guides’ Route (TD+, 800m, Balmat-Fabre-Monaci-Thivierge, 1978) to the east face, approximately half a pitch to the right of the Monasterio-Richey 2002 attempt (as we found out later). I started up the first two pitches wearing my crampons, but after taking two falls, I changed to climbing shoes. The granite was first class, only briefly disturbed by some huge, loose flakes. On the last pitch, powder again covered the rock, and it was nearly impossible to set up belays.

The sun had already set behind Alpamayo as we stood on the summit (5830m) on May 29, having completed El Centelleo (VI 6b M6+, 700m). A glance down the Guides’ Route wasn’t very promising, so we decided to rappel down the east face instead, which appeared mushroom free. At the end of the first rappel, I practically fell into an ice cave; it proved to be the best shelter we could find.

After an uncomfortable night, the next rappel led us to an established anchor. All the following rappels were settled in a similar manner to the base of the mountain. Looking over the photos back in base camp, we found out we’d descended directly over the Monasterio-Richey attempt.

–Grega Lacen, Crna na Koroskem, Slovenia