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Punta Numa (5179m) in the Quebrada Rurec Valley, Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Climbers seeking Peruvian rock climbs have in recent years focused on the well-established routes on La Esfinge (5325m) in the Quebrada de Paron, but increasingly the rock faces of the Quebrada Rurec Valley, which offer easy approaches, are attracting attention. In July a team of Lecco Spiders from Lecco, Italy, established Qui Io Vado Ancora (V 7a+ A1, 15 pitches) on this wall. [Photo] Fabio Palma
NEW ROCK CHALLENGES ON THE WALLS OF PERU
Posted on: September 19, 2006
Simone Pedeferri on Qui Io Vado Ancora (V 7a+ A1, 15 pitches) on Punta Numa (5179m) in the Quebrada Rurec Valley, Cordillera Blanca, Peru. The team of Lecco Spiders from Lecco, Italy, established the line in July; two pitch, including the fourteenth, which they reckon will go free at 7c, remain to be freed. Team member Fabio Palma notes that the route is much harder than the Bole-Karo Route (7c+, 7a oblig, 800m), the hardest on La Esfinge (5325m). [Photo] Fabio Palma
Andrea Pavan, Simone Pedeferri and I, all members of the Ragni di Lecco, wanted to open a new route that would reflect our love of free climbing at high altitude. We choose Peru after a talk with Roberto Iannilli, who has opened two routes up to 6c+/A2 in the Quebrada Rurec Valley of the Cordillera Blanca. Simone, who had sent Joy Division (8b, 800m) in Qualido, Italy, arguably the hardest granite route in Europe, did another 8c just days before our expedition.
On July 1 we arrived in the Rurec Valley after a lovely twelve-kilometer walk from the village of Olleros, near Huarez, Peru. Our route began just twenty minutes above the valley floor (4050m), fifty meters to the right of the Gallego brothers' route (A4+). The line contained mostly slabs, often runout (up to twelve meters in some 6c/7a obl sections); and on Pitches 4-6, where there was no other possible protection, we placed some bolts, although not enough to make falling an option. We freed nearly all fifteen pitches, except Pitch 10, which was too dirty (after a day of cleaning it could become 6c max) and Pitch 14, because it was too cold that day (it could be a fantastic 7c; we climbed it at 7a A1). The best pitches might be the last three, particularly the final pitch with a wide crack requiring number three through five Friends and finishing at 4600 meters. After that pitch it should be possible to continue on the Gallego Route to the top of Punta Numa (5179m), but we ran out of time.
Linking our route to the Gallego Route or trying to onsight it in a day and freeing the fourteenth pitch would make fantastic objectives for a strong team. The weather is relatively stable: out of seven days of climbing, we suffered only three of wind and one of snow. The main challenge is that it's too cold before 11 a.m. to climb and dark arrives at 6 p.m. But it's easy to set up anchors and rap down in the evening. For those interested in attempting these projects, we'd suggest a set of Friends, with doubles in sizes one through three, as well as some micronuts. There are other possibilities in the valley as well, although none of them are easy, and cracks are rare.
Three days later, in the Quebrada de Paron Valley, Andrea and Simone onsighted the first nine pitches of the Bole-Karo Route (7c+, 7a oblig, 800m) on La Esfinge (5325m); although a bout of food-poisoning forced them to retreat, they based the grades of our new route on that one, now at 7a+ max. Of course it's hard to tell how much altitude affects your sense of difficulty!
We named our line Qui Io Vado Ancora, out of gratitude for Whitesnake, whose song "Here I go again," seems to explain quite well our solitary passion.
Reporting from Italy