PUCAHIRCA NORTE, THE POWER OF PESPECTIVE

Posted on: December 1, 2003


Carlos Buhler nears the summit of Pucahirca Norte (6047m). In July Buhler and Thaddeus Josephson established The Power of Perspective on the northwest face in six days. Peaks of the Cordillera Blanca visible in the background are as follows: A.Pucahirca Oeste II (ca. 5500m; unclimbed) B.Quitaraju (6040m) C.Alpamayo (5947m) D.Santa Cruz (6259m) E.Santa Cruz Chico (5800m) [Photo] Thaddeus Josephson

After an unsuccessful trip to the Pucahirca Group in mid-June, Carlos Buhler and I returned to this remote part of the Cordillera Blanca in July. On July 19, after two days of travel to our base camp on the remote west side of Pucahirca Norte (6047m), we began carrying loads to a high camp at 4880 meters. From there, a difficult approach up 200 meters of rotten rock allowed us to access the cirque above, bypassing the complicated icefall below. A long traverse led to the bergschrund beneath the northwest face. From here four pitches of snow and ice positioned us at our first bivy.

The next morning we climbed through unconsolidated snow and poor ice, threatened by the huge seracs looming above. This was an unsettling activity for me as it was my first "real" alpine route and first exposure to such uncontrollable objective dangers. When I reached the top of the next pitch, I found Carlos sitting in a hole he had dug for himself; apparently this was the belay! Snow holes and serac falls? I began questioning the madness of these alpine endeavors. Fortunately, the next day we encountered some fine ice pitches with solid belays that allowed us to move quickly in more secure conditions.

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Over the next two days we climbed through everything from wind-twisted ice bulges to fragile mixed ground. Just below the summit we were pinned in whiteout conditions for eighteen hours with a dwindling food and fuel supply. As we melted snow the following morning, the increasing light confirmed our highest hopes: the storm had passed. We reached the summit at 8:25 a.m., July 27, mentally and physically exhausted, but proud of our accomplishment, The Power of Perspective (TD+, 1000m). We had spent six days on the face, climbing what we believe to be the first route accessed from the Sajuna Lake side of the range.

- Thaddeus Josephson, Bozeman, Montana, USA



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