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Pavle Kozjek and Grega Kresal’s July 6 first ascent of the east face of Puscantrupa Este (5410m): Stonehenge (VII+ 70 degree ice, 10 pitches, 600m), Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru. The pair climbed the route, likely the mountain’s second ascent, in one day; in 1986, loose blocks turned around the only other party to attempt the line. [Photo] Pavle Kojzek

For his eighth big wall first ascent in the Andes, Pavle Kozjek and Grega Kresal–who climbed Chacraraju’s 700m east face (VII, A2) with him in 1993–made the first ascent of the east face of Puscantrupa Este (5410m), a remote peak in the Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru. The peak is located in the extreme southeast corner of Huayhuash, a great distance from standard western approaches (villages Chiquian and Llamac). The new line, Stonehenge (VII+ 70 degree ice, 10 pitches, 600m), ascends a wall that had not been attempted for over twenty years. It is likely the second ascent of the peak. Kozjek and Kresal completed the climb in fourteen hours roundtrip on July 6, in pure alpine style.

“The Scary Corner” that nearly crushed a Camalot at the beginning of Pitch 6. Kozjek and Kresal took the first chance to traverse right into another, more solid corner. [Photo] Pavle Kozjek

The pair drove eleven hours from Huaraz to reach Cajatambo, from where they embarked on a two long day trek to reach the south side of the peak. Here they established basecamp. Starting at 4 a .m. on July 6, they made a one hour approach to reach the base of the east face. They moved over 200 meters of moderate ice to reach the steep wall made of lithic tuff, typical rock of Puscanturpas (a number of rock routes have been established on the west face of Puscanturpa Norte). “Climbing on volcanic rock was really something special,” Kozjek said. “[There was] excellent friction, clean cracks and thin sharp edges that seemed made for boots (I had my rock shoes with me, but I kept them in my backpack).” However, some sections of the climb were spiced with large, unstable blocks.

In 1986 a set of loose blocks turned around Nixon and partner, the first and only team to attempt the face, only half a pitch up the ridge. Kozjek and Kresal found one of their abandoned carabiners twenty meters off the deck.

Grega Kresal beginning the steepest section above the ledge, on Pitch 5. [Photo] Pavle Kozjek

With a 60-meter rope they climbed ten pitches on the face. The first two pitches (V, VI) worked up steep slabs and cracks to reach an obvious ledge. A system of cracks and corners followed. The fifth pitch (VII) offered perfect rock with few protection possibilities, and the sixth (VII+) began with “The Scary Corner,” a loose 10-meter dihedral that moved so much it nearly crushed a Camalot on the ascent. The pair traversed right into another corner, and after more than two long pitches (VI, V) they reached the broken summit ridge from the north side. They summited early in the afternoon and cautiously rappelled down the same line. “The Normal Route (West Ridge, 1986) was so broken and difficult, I was scared to descend it,” Kozjek said.

According to Jeremy Frimer’s guide to the area–the same volume that inspired Kozjek to attempt this unclimbed wall on Puscantrupa Este–Stonehenge marks the peak’s second ascent.

Kozjek noted that “some very interesting routes” were added to the Andes’ ranges this year by Jordi Corominas and Oriol Baro. See the July 11 NewsWire for more details on their three new climbs.

Sources: Pavle Kozjek, Climbs and Treks in the Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru (Frimer)

Grega Kresal on Pitch 10, approaching the summit of Puscantrupa Este (5410m), Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru. The ridge between the east and main summit is visible in the background. [Photo] Pavle Kojzek