Suiricocha, Manon Dos and Vicuñita is one of the peaks in the Central Range, located in Lima’s Region. Despite of the first ascend was in 1964 by a German expedition, this region of the Andeans remains in our days pretty remote and unexplored. The Central Range offers you nice mix climbing walls, and multi-pitches technical faces. This area is perfect experienced climbers who enjoy technical climbs in the 5000m altitude range.
Routes opened by Sophie Denis and Beto Pinto
SUIRICOCHA (5,495 m.a.s.l)
Approach: We left San Mateo for the Rio Blanco to Paccha Lake. The next day at 8am, we carried our climbing gear and equipment up to the Moraine Camp (3 hours),
Route: The 3rd day, we left the Moraine Camp at 3am to climb Suiricocha North Face. The approach was longer than expected, as we have to cross a hard ice glacier, fairly active, with numerous crevasses. Then to save some time, we start climbing the first 3 pitches of the face together in Assembly style. Snow getting loose at pitch 4th, we start climbing with protection around 6am. Then we enjoyed a nice hard snow from pitches 5th to 7th, which allow us to a set up a fast climbing pace. The first 2 pitches of the face have an angle ~ 60 º, the 5 following pitches are a little steeper ~70º. The wall finish by a steep section made of broken hard ice, lots of loose rocks and a little shelter with an angle > 80°. That very psychological last pitch is the most difficult part of the climb and it sets up the route difficulty level. We summit at 8:30. The view is stunning.
Descent: We made 8 rappels for the same route. We were out of the glacier by noon and after a lunch break, we arrived at our camp at 3pm.
MANON DOS (5,500 m.a.s.l)
Mix Terrain with loose snow, big snow plates, few big horizontal crevasses. Angle up to 90 º. The poor snow condition makes the route very difficult (MD+)
First ascent: June 4, 2010 by climbers Sophie Denis & Beto Pinto
Name of the route: “Beyond Survival”
Elevation: 800m from moraine camp (4,700 m.a.s.l), to the summit (5,500 m.a.s.l)
Approach: After a rest day, we left the Moraine Camp at 3am on the 5th day to climb Manon Dos West Face. We left our climbing gear at the bottom of the glacier the previous day. The approaches consist in crossing a fairly long glacier made of hard ice with numerous crevasses. Those crevasses are relatively thin, so beside the stressful crevasse cracking/popping noise when walking on the glacier, this phase is pretty straightforward. Nevertheless, the lack of safe place to rest due to the possible rock falls and active crevasses terrain, make that phase a little long and tiring. Then you have to kick hard the ice to climb the bottom of the Moraine made of hard blue ice with lose rocks. Once you passed it, you will walk on a flat part (max angle of 30 º) to reach the bottom of the face. Watch out to the rock falls.
Route: We start our first pitch at 5am by crossing a bergschrund, then face got steepen reaching rapidly an angle of 80º -90º. Good snow conditions deteriorate drastically as we found unexpected snow plates. That slow us down a lot as we have now to deal with high risk of avalanches. The 3rd pitch is even more difficult as we discover giant crevasses with very loose snow bridges. Snow and ice conditions were not really good to put descent anchors. We experienced as well small mushrooms which were hanging. But those were not a difficulty beside of they are avalanches’ sensitive. Once you pass the hedge of the top of face, it is a walk to the summit with an angle between 30 º to 60 º. We summit at 8:30am. The 2nd and 3rd pitches were really time consuming as unexpected hazard keeps popping up along the climb.
Descent: We rappel the same route. To have enough snow pickets (2) for our next climb, our goal was leaving 2 snow pickets and 1 old ice crew behind us. To do so, we had to be creative. We used Bollard for the 2 first rappels as the snow was hard and slope angle appropriate. Then we used 2 snow pickets for the next 2 other rappels. For our last rappel, we put a piton in a nice rock block with good rock quality. Then, we down climbed to the bottom of the face, then to the bottom the Moraine. We arrived at the glacier ~11am, ice was still good, not too many pools. We were out of the glacier by noon and after a lunch break, we arrived at our camp at 3pm.
VICUÑITA (5,538 m.a.s.l)
Mix Terrain with loose and deep snow, snow plates, 2 big horizontal crevasses, loose rocks and channel made of rocks & hard ice. Angle up to 90º. Passing that channel required experience in mix climbing and makes the route very difficult (MD+)
First ascent: June 6, 2010 by climbers Beto Pinto & Sophie Denis
Name of the route: “Sacred Ayahuasca”
Elevation: 838m from moraine camp (4,700 m.a.s.l), to the summit (5,538 m.a.s.l)
Approach: After a rest day, we left the Moraine Camp at 3am on the 6th day to climb Vicuñita West Face. The approach was consisting in crossing the moraine, made of lose rock and crossing a small glacier made of hard ice with obvious horizontal crevasses. This phase is pretty straight forward and should have been fast but Sophie was sick and had some difficulties of breathing. We arrive a the bottom of the face at 5am.
Route: To safe time we climbed together in the Assembly style almost 2 pitches. Snow was loose; angle was up to 60 º for the last meters before reaching the bottom of channel. The rock was perfect to set a nice anchor. We start climbing the channel at 5:30am. Rock in the channel was a little loose but the hard ice was perfect to grab enough support / resistance to climb. It is a very enjoyable pitch made of pure mix climbing followed by a hard ice 90º section. Then, once you arrived at the top of the hedge of the face, you walk to the summit on a slope with an angle of 25 º to 45 º. Good snow condition. We noticed that the hanging mushroom had a big crack, so watch out.. We summit at 7:30am. Views are breath taking, and climbing the channel is real hard core climbing which makes you feel good. Paccha route: As we were feeling good, we decided to walk along the whole ridge to Paccha summit. (Snow melts pretty fast with the sun, so it seems better to be out of it by ~10am.)
Descent: We descent Paccha via the normal route. We arrived at the bottom of the glacier ~10am, ice was hard. We got a lunch then we went down the Moraine to the base camp. We change base camp from Moraine Camp to Paccha lake base camp. We arrived at our camp at 1pm.
We are gpoing home happy - looking forward our next in July