The Southwest Buttress of Taufflraju Cordillera Blanca Peru

Translated from the native Quechuan, taulliraju means 'flower of ice." It is an apt description of a peak straight out of a climber's flight of fancy. Hovering over the ancient Incan pass of Punta Union like a crystal hummingbird, the mountain is at its most alluring and mystical in late afternoon light, with clouds swirling around its twin granite pillars. The south pillar was the scene of Nicolas Jaegers inspired solo climb in 1979, The southwest pillar is even more attractive, with its comet tail of a couloir at the bottom and the intricate arabesques of its upper ice arête.

When I first saw a photo of this pillar taken by my brother Mike in the early (970s, I knew Î would someday have to come and climb it. Three years before Alex Lowe and 1 made our climb, the first ascent was done by an Italian expedition with six members using fixed ropes and siege tactics Alex and 1 made the climb and traversed the peak in a four-day, alpine-style round trip. Other routes have been done on this side of the mountain, at least one of which is a more difficult mixed rock and ice climb, but none tugs the strings of the climber's heart with greater force than the Southwest Buttress,

Location: The Southwest Buttress of Taulliraju is above 16,000-foot Punta Union pass, at the head of the Santa Cruz valley in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru. First Ascent: Gianni Calcagno, Piero Perona, Ugo Vialardi, Costantino Piazzo, Tullio Vidoni, and Stefano DeBenedetti, August 1980; first alpine-style ascent: Alex Lowe and Jeff Lowe, July 1983 Elevation Gain: About 3,200 feet, from approximately 16,000 feet to 19,128 feet Difficulty: Grade VI, Wl6, M6 (one point of aid) Time: 2 or 3 days in ascent, 1 day for the descent

Equipment: Six or eight ice screws, two or three hook-type ice pitons, six or eight rock pitons (including several knifeblades), one or two deadmen, bivouac gear Season: June to August

Comments: The Santa Cruz valley gives access to an exemplary array of peaks, including the ice pyramids of Alpamayo, Artesonraju, and Pirámide, and therefore serves as a convenient base for an extended period of climbing Acclimatizing with hikes up to Punta Union pass inspires awe and respect for the Incans who carved and laid the stones that lead upward like a staircase to the clouds The Incans seem to have thought about stone and ice and the

Aid Climbing Grand Pilier Angle
Jope: Richard Rtxsiter

natural world in ways that we can only guess at. In Peru it is always a good idea to retain your arriero for the duration of your stay in the mountains to prevent thievery.

Approach: Travel by bus from Lima to Huaraz, then by bus from Huaraz to the

225 ▼ The Southwest Buttress of Touliiraju, Cordillera Blanea, Peru

village of Cashapampa, where you can hire an arrière and burros. A 2-day walk will bring you to good camping in meadows below Taulliraju and Punta Union.

Route: The first third of the buttress is climbed by way of the major gash between walls of El Capitan-qualiry granite. Follow this for about a dozen pitches of steepening W13, 4, and 5, which gradually thins into some very difficult mixed climbing (M6) in a sort of chimney and eventually leads to the crest of the icy ridge. Snow ledges provide a place for the first bivouac. Then follow the fluted ice arête for about fifteen pitches by the line of least resistance. The climbing is W13 to 5+ among cornices, towers, arêtes, and couloirs weaving back and forth across the crest of the ridge. A bivouac cave with a flat floor is located a pitch or so below the rock band that bisects the arête several hundred feet below the summit ridge On a short, overhanging rock step through the band, you can place one piton for aid to pull onto the steep, whipped-cream rolls that lead to the summit ridge. Several increasingly nerve-wracking leads on extremely steep Andean cheese ice lead to the horribly corniced crest of the summit ridge Rather than follow the crest, drop down half a rope-length on the east side of the mountain. Here you can make a third bivouac in an ice cave. Following more or less the junction of rock and ice at the top of the east face, traverse for several pitches toward the summit of the mountain. Finally, a difficult (WÎ5) waterfall-ice pitch takes you directly back onto the crest of the summit ridge. A gentle stroll up easy snow leads to the summit.

Descent: Climb a short way (about 100 feet) down the south buttress, then make a series of five or six rappels, mostly from rock anchors, down the Southeast Face. This will bring you to the high glacial shelf on this stde of the mountain. Cross the glacier in a southeasterly direction for about one-half mile, then look over the edge for the top of the Southeast Pillar, which drops down to meet the slopes on the east side of Punta Union. Another ten rappels or so down this rocky ridge deposit you on these eastern slopes, a short distance from the Inca Trail. Hike back over Punta Union to your base camp.

Alex Low» Seeding bord mixed ground In the lower couloir on TouHirajii.

(Ptnlo: Jsffiowe)

The Citadel Shelterstone

Gordon Smith on the lewer ilobi of the Citadel route, Shelter Stone Crag

Gtadel/Sticit Face, Shelter Stone Crag, Scotland

Shelter Stone Crag is a granite prominence in a remote come in the Cairngorms. With 1,000 feet of excellent steep rock, it is one of Scotland's highest cliffs, home to a number of challenging summer climbs. In good winters, the features of the escarpment are delicately etched with ice.

Citadel takes a line up the center of the face, following grooves and chimneys to a crux corner and wall to reach a large snow ledge at two-thirds height. The summer line continues through steep rock directly above the right-hand corner of the ledge. Although it has been climbed in winter by Murray Hamilton and Ken Spence, it is rarely in icy condition. By traversing left on the ledge, however, the bottom two-thirds of Citadel can be linked with the upper chimney line of Sticil Face, making a very challenging natural winter link-up. This combination was first climbed by Al Rouse and Brian Hall in the winter of 1973. 1 repeated the route with the Scotsman Gordon Smith the next winter. Like Rouse and Hall, we pulled on a piton on the crux pitch below the ledge (M6, Al). Later, the first completely free ascent was made by Rab Anderson and Graeme Nicol. The rating given here is my estimate, based on a twenty-year-old memory and reports from the free-climbing team.

Location: Shelter Stone Crag is located in the north-

em Cairngorms alongside Cairn Etchachan. First Ascent: Alan Rouse and Brian Hall, winter 1973; first free ascent: Rab Anderson and Graeme Nicol, 1987 Elevation Gain: About 1,000 feet Difficulty: Grade IV, M7 (unconfirmed) Time: 6 to 8 hours

Equipment: One or two ice screws, two or three blade pi tons, one or two small angle pitons, a few small to medium Stoppers, half a set of Friends; head lamps, to avoid a possible bivouac,- skis and/or snowshoes to speed up the approach when there is deep snow Season: December through March, depending on the particular season Comments: The Cairngorms are subject to whiteouts and severe winds and storm. Be expert with map and compass and be ready to use them on the approach/

Gordon Smith on the lewer ilobi of the Citadel route, Shelter Stone Crag

227 ▼ Citadel/Sticil Face, Shelter Stone Crag, Scotland retreat from the climb. Stop at the Aviemore Lodge, one of the homes of the Scottish National Mountaineering School, near the Cairngorm ski area for information on conditions and approach. Approach: From the top of the Cairngorm ski area, cross the Cairngorm plateau and drop down into the corrie with a little lake below the crag (2 hours). Route: Beginning on iced-up slabs near the toe of the rock, follow the line of Citadel for two pitches of Wl3 climbing. A more difficult chimney pitch (M4+) leads to a belay below the crux. The crux is a difficult series of moves over some bulges and past a short wall with fixed pitons to easier ground


(M77). An easier pitch (M2 or 3) leads to the large snow ledge. Walk left on the ledge, then diagonal up and left at its end to a junction with «he Sticil Face chimney (easy climbing). One easy and one moderate (M4) pitch follow the chimney to the top. Descent: Since the top of Shelter Stone Crag is really just the edge of the Cairngorm plateau, you can simply walk back around the top of the corrie and rejoin your approach track

The Landmark Routes of the Northeast Face of Ben Nevis, Scotland

The Northeast Face of Ben Nevis, under full winter armor, is a savage and impressive place. Alpme in nature, with 2,000-foot buttresses and 1,500-foot faces seamed by impressive gullies and chimneys, this was the scene of a number of premonitory ascents between 1957 and 1960 by Jimmy Marshall, Tom Patey, Robin Smith, Dougall Haston, Hamish Maclnnes, lan Clough, and others. These routes were ten years ahead of their time and technically more difficult than any contemporaneous ice climbs in the Alps. To my mind, the most classic, the Orion Face Direct, which had its second ascent in 1971, is roughly comparable to routes done in the high mountains during the 1970s, such as the climbs on the Grand Pilier d'Angle, the Balfour Face of Mount Tasman in New Zealand, Route Canal on the Northeast Face of the Grand Teton, or New Hampshire's Black Dike. When you consider that all of the Ben Nevis routes were made using step-cutting techniques with straight-pick ice axes, in five to twelve hours, with only the occasional rock piton or runner around a spike for protection, they become all the more remarkable. Collectively, these climbs represent the high-water mark of the old classic style of ice climbing. With curved picks, rigid boots, tube screws, fleece and waterproof/breathable shell clothing, and the like, Ben Nevis has lost some of its mythical qualities, but any ice climber interested in the history of the sport should make a pilgrimage there in honor of the old masters.

In 1974, in the company of John Cunningham, Hamish Maclnnes, Tut Braithewaite, Henry Barber, Alex Maclntyre, Yvon Chouinard, and others, i spent

▼ The Landmark Routes of the Northeast Face of Ben Nevis, Scotland

▼ The Landmark Routes of the Northeast Face of Ben Nevis, Scotland

Corie Leis Ben Nevis

Bm Ntvti ifflofo. MLowe! a month in Scotland working on a never-released film for the National Geographic

Society, Ferried by helicopter each day to the top of the Ben from our base at the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe, 1 had the occasional opportunity to sneak away (with others and alone) during lulls in the filming and experience a number of these great routes. Nevis blizzards, styrofoam ice plastering all the exposed rack, nightly samplings of the great Scottish brews in the pub, trading tales with some of the era's greatest climbers—these remain some of the most fulsome memories of my ice-climbing career.

Here 1 Have listed a number of the important climbs made from 1957 to 1960. Rather than describing them in great detail, 1 have only indicated the length, the grade, the first ascent parties, and the date for each.

Zero Gully Ben Nevis Route

231 ▼ Maclntyre/Colton Route, Grandes jorasses, France


W15 Ice Climb

Top: Typical climbing on Ben Ntvii snow-Ice

Bottom: A rare perfect day on the Ben. John Cunningham belays Yvon Choulnard to the top.

(Photos: Jeff Lowe!

Location: Ben Nevis (4,408 feet) is located in western Scotland, a few miles east of Fort William.

Minus Two Gwlîy: 900 feet, grade 111, W15(?). First ascent: jimmy Marshall, J. Stenhouse, Dougall Haston, February 1959. This is probably the hardest technical climb of the classic Nevis gullies,

Oriott Face Direct: 1,500 feet, grade IV, Wl5(?). First ascent: Robin Smith and Jimmy Marshall, February 1960. This beautiful direct hut natural line follows steep ice grooves to the basin and continues to follow the line of least resistance quite directly to the summit

Zero Gully: 1,500 feet, grade 111, W14+ to 5(?). First ascent; Hamish Maclnnes, Tom Patey, and Craeme Nicol, February 1957, In thin-ice conditions the climbing can border on M6.

Haitian's Wall 800 feet, grade 111, Wl4. First ascent: W. D. Brooker, Jimmy Marshall, and Tom Patey, February 1959 Probably the easiest of the routes listed here, it is still a fine climb

Point Five Gwliy 1,000 feet, grade 111, Wl4. First ascent: J M Alexander, Ian Clough, D. Pipes, and R. Shaw, in hard conditions over 5 days in January 1959. The second ascent, by Robin Smith and Jimmy Marshall in good conditions, took only 7 hours.

Smith's .Routt on Gardyloo Buttress: 400 feet, grade HI, Wl5. First ascent: Robin Smith and Jimmy Marshall, February 1960 A short but technical and extremely aesthetic route, it uses the prominent slanting grooves that drain the upper funnel of the buttress Approach: The approach to all of the routes passes the distillery on the highway leading northeast out of Fort William and continues up the Ailt a Mhulinn on foot to the C1C Hut (open only to members of the Scottish Mountaineering Club), usually a journey of 2 to 3 hours. From the hut, it is another 30 to 45 minutes up to the climbs. Descent: Contour around to the south and east to the Cam Mor Dearg Arête, and from there into the Coire Leis. From the Cam Mor Dearg Arête there may be a line of rappel posts leading down into the Coire Leis.

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