El Camino Secreto de Hermann Kichner (5.10- A1 50-90 degrees) on Pisco (5752m), Peru. Austrian Florian Burger and Peruvian Beto Pinto climbed this route up the south face in late August. [Photo] Beto Pinto collection
Originally planning to climb the west face of Yerupaja (ca. 6600m), Austrian Florian Burger and Peruvian Beto Pinto put up a new route on Pisco (5752m) in late August. El Camino Secreto de Hermann Kichner ascends the south face, with maximum difficulties of 5.10- A1 rock and 50- to 90-degree ice and snow.
Beto Pinto, Florian Burger and Bernardo “Radio” Cipiriano Lopez. [Photo] Beto Pinto collection
On Day 1, the team arrived at base camp under a shroud of heavy snow. They spent the following three days shuttling gear to the base of the Huandoy group with the help of their hired cook and porter, Bernardo Cipiriano Lopez, who Pinto calls “Radio.”
At three o’clock the following morning, loose snow had the two climbers reassessing their route plans. They instead chose a 400-meter mixed line crawling up the south face of Pisco. They walked to the foot of the face the next morning.
Florian Burger crosses an ice mushroom on the fifth pitch. Much of Burger and Pinto’s line up the south face climbed through unconsolidated snow. [Photo] Beto Pinto
Reaching the base of the climb in 40 minutes, Burger and Pinto climbed the first pitch of 50- to 60-degree snow, with a difficult, three-meter traverse on a 90-degree wall to gain a couloir. From here Pinto belayed Burger up the second pitch, a relatively simple scramble up a moderately steep snow couloir. The following pitch climbed hard ice, ranging from 70 to 90 degrees, and a section of unconsolidated snow. This couloir led the team into a “beautiful corridor between a series of snow mushrooms.”
The fourth pitch continued through a channel of loose snow to a 5c+ rock section, made difficult by a lack of adequate protection. Pinto finally fiddled two nuts into a small fissure to set up a belay. As Burger made his way up to the marginal anchor, he told his partner he had been hit in the head by falling ice. Pinto diagnosed Burger with a mild concussion, and they considered descending but concluded that going up would be safer than retreat.
Beto Pinto leads the sixth pitch, one of most difficult sections of the climb. [Photo] Florian Burger
The sixth pitch proved to be the crux of the climb. Forty meters of brittle ice, narrowed to three inches in spots. Protection was limited to a smattering of tenuous nut placements, mostly for psychological reassurance. The team ascended a final channel of snow, made technically difficult by a series of overhangs. A falling rock fell past the two men, missing their ropes.
Just five meters from the summit, the team was stymied by warm temperatures and unstable snow. Meanwhile, a group of porters had climbed Pisco by the normal route as part of emergency rescue training. Their porter, Lopez, also climbed the normal route so he could assist in a rescue. Burger and Pinto radioed Lopez to belay them to the summit. At 4:15 p.m., the duo was on the top.
Beto Pinto on the fifth pitch of El Camino Secreto de Hermann Kichner. [Photo] Florian Burger
Around ten routes climb the south face of Pisco, including one that Pinto put up in 2006 called La Crudita. Burger and Pinto’s new line crosses the Mexican route, Pinche Guey, on the fifth pitch, but no one has documented having climbed the rest of the route.
Chacraraju Oeste (6112m) from Burger and Pinto’s high camp in the Huandoy group. [Photo] Beto Pinto collection