Young Spanish team establishes Big Fighter, a 740-meter route on Chaupi Huanca, Peru

Posted on: September 7, 2021


The route line for Jaume Peiro and Alex Gonzalez' Big Fighter (6c [5.11b/c] A2, 740m) on Chaupi Huanca. [Photo] Alex GonzalezThe route line for Big Fighter (6c [5.11b/c] A2, 740m) on Chaupi Huanca. [Photo] Alex Gonzalez

Between July 1 and 3, young Spanish climbers Jaume Peiro (20) and Alex Gonzalez (18) made the first ascent of the northwest spur of Chaupi Huanca in the Rurec Valley of the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. They climbed their 740-meter route—Big Fighter—at 6c (5.11b/c) A2, and estimated it would go free at 8a+ (5.13c). Peiro and Gonzalez succeeded on the line that two previous parties (an Argentinean team in 2016, and an Ecuadorian team in 2021) had previously attempted, adding 470 meters to the Ecuadorian team's high point that was 270 meters up the wall.

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On July 1, Peiro and Gonzalez climbed to the Ecuadorians' high point and established camp on a natural ledge. The next day, they climbed 150 meters of unclimbed terrain (the most difficult on the route), fixed their ropes, and returned to their camp. The third day on the wall, they ascended their fixed ropes, pushed to the summit, and rappelled back down to their camp where they slept again, descending to the ground the next morning.

A photo of the Rurec Valley, with Chaupi Huanca seen left of center, with the prominent headwall tower. You can see that Chaupi Huanca has two summits; the closer, lower one is where all the previous routes on Chaupi Huanca were climbed. Big Fighter tops out, instead, on the back one, which is higher. [Photo] Alex Gonzalez-Jaume Peiro collectionA photo of the Rurec Valley, with Chaupi Huanca seen left of center, with the prominent headwall tower. You can see that Chaupi Huanca has two summits; the closer, lower one is where all the previous routes on Chaupi Huanca were climbed. Big Fighter tops out, instead, on the back one, which is higher. [Photo] Alex Gonzalez-Jaume Peiro collection

Jaume Peiro in base camp in the Rurec Valley preparing the gear for his and Alex Gonzalez' climb of Big Fighter on Chaupi Huanca, Peru. [Photo] Alex GonzalezJaume Peiro in base camp in the Rurec Valley preparing the gear for his and Alex Gonzalez' climb of Big Fighter on Chaupi Huanca, Peru. [Photo] Alex Gonzalez

Peiro climbing fixed ropes up to his and Alex Gonzalez' high point on the second day of their ascent. [Photo] Alex GonzalezPeiro climbing fixed ropes up to his and Gonzalez' high point on the second day of their ascent. [Photo] Alex Gonzalez

While Peiro and Gonzalez's climb was not the first route on Chaupi Huanca, it was the first successful ascent of the mountain's northwest spur. The mountain's southwest spur has been climbed by a number of different routes, mostly big-wall testpieces that are 1000 meters or longer with difficulties up to A4. Furthermore, Big Fighter is the first climb to reach the peak's south summit. They passed close by the north summit (4800m) where all the other routes on Chaupi Huanca that summit end, and added another 60-meter pitch of technical climbing to reach the north summit (4850m).

Alex Gonzalez on the crux roof pitch of Big Fighter. [Photo] Jaume Peiro Gonzalez on the crux roof pitch of Big Fighter. [Photo] Jaume Peiro

The only free climb on Chaupi Huanca thus far is Qui Lo Vado Ancora (7b [5.12b] A1, 585m). Established by Simone Pedeferri, Andrea Pavan, and Fabio Palma in 2006, that route was later freed onsight by Iker and Eneko Pou, Pedro Galan and Manu Ponce in 2017 at 7c+/8a- (5.13a). That route does not summit the peak, but stops where it meets up with Caravaca Jubilar (VI 5.11 A4, 1000m, Gallego-Gallego-Sandoval, 2003), which does summit. The Pou brothers et al. also made the first ascent of Zerain (7a+ [5.12a] A1, 860m) on a wall right of Chaupi Huanca on that same trip. You can see a short film about Zerain here.

Peiro and Gonzalez, who met on a vacation in Malta, are a couple. According to their website, translated from Spanish, they are "strong defenders of the [LGBTQI+ community] and one of our objectives is to fight for [LGBTQI+] rights and make homosexuality visible in [our] sport."

The route's name, Big Fighter, is an homage to Gonzalez' 15-year-old younger brother, Alvaro. "The name...is dedicated to my little brother who has been fighting cancer for several years and for all those children who fight every day to overcome the disease of childhood cancer," Gonzalez wrote in an email.

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