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Gran Gendarme Nord Est del Nevado Santa Cruz
Photo by Fila Santa Cruz 2011
Vertical section to reach the summit of Gran Gendarme
Photo by Fila Santa Cruz 2011

Photo by Fila Santa Cruz 2011
Precarious traverse beneath the serac which supports the Gran Gendarme.
Photo by Fila Santa Cruz 2011
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Nevado Santa Cruz, new routes in the Peruvian Andes


In June 2011 the Italian alpinists Fabrizio Manoni, Enrico Rosso and Paolo Stoppini established two new routes on Nevado Santa Cruz in the Andes, Peru.

On 24 June the Fila-Santa Cruz expedition returned to Italy. Despite having opted against climbing the NE Ridge of Nevado Santa Cruz, the team comprised of Fabrizio Manoni, Enrico Rosso and Paolo Stoppini returned home with two new routes: the fist ascent of the Gran Gendarme (5800m) on the NE Ridge of Nevado Santa Cruz and the first ascent of the East Face of Nevado Santa Cruz Chico. The alpinists were accompanied by filmmaker Maurizio Pellegrini and photographer Gonzalo Bavestrello who accompanied the alpinists up to 5200m, shooting 3000 photos and 10 hours of reel.

Fila-Santa Cruz 2011
by Enrico Rossi

On 7 June we set off to establish our ABC on the way to the Gran Gendarme which supports the NE Ridge of Nevado Santa Cruz. We climbed the obvious gully at the base of the Gendarme (5100m circa) and the ascent then continued along the crest to the large suspended glacier which we reached from the left. After having climbed past this we continued up the next snow slope and reached a second, smaller hanging glacier where we established ABC, directly beneath the Gran Gendarme.

After having returned to Base Camp and rested for a day we climbed back up to ABC with the aim of continuing on to the summit of Santa Cruz. The following day we set off and were immediately severely put to the test by ice and snow and large vertical sections. We feared for the worst and were extremely worried by the quality of sections of the North Face. After battling hard for some hours we reached the summit of the Gendarme via an overhanging passage and we reached an enormous, unstable meringue circa 30m wide above the knife-edge ridge at circa 5800m.

From this observation point it became clear that continuing along the ridge was out of the question. In front of us lay a series of enormous, unstable snow mushrooms. To the north, right in the centre of the face, ice and rockfall. While to the south the slopes slid into a vertical void, laden with powder snow. All we could do was remember our friend Luciano Colombo (a talented alpinist and Operazione Mato Grosso volunteer), dedicate the summit to him and, after having observed a stupendous line up the East Face of Nevado Santa Cruz Chico directly opposite, abseil off towards our next objective.

After a rest day at Base Camp, we ascended the glacier beneath the East Face of Santa Cruz Chico on 16 June and pitched a tent 5200m. We set off early the next morning in alpine style: the climb required 12 hours and we encountered some problematic moments especially during the abseils. The route is probably the first ascent of the East Face of Nevado Santa Cruz Chico.

The face entails all the typical difficulties of climbing in the Andes: steep, enormous ice mushrooms and unconsolidated snow. The route climbs the central gully up the East Face and heads directly to the enormous serac which shuts it off close to the top. The serac is negotiated by a traverse right a finishing gully then leads directly to the summit.

The weather conditions we encountered during the ascent were extremely harsh with temperatures estimated at -15°C, strong winds, cloud cover and reduced visibility. Snow conditions rendered the abseil descent down the line of ascent difficult, too. The route is circa 500m high, circa 600m long and the difficulties are estimated at ED, with numerous 80° - 90° ice sections with little pro.

Gran Gendarme, NE RidgeNevado Santa Cruz (5800m)
(Punta Luciano Colombo)
Enrico Rosso, Paolo Stoppini, Fabrizio Manoni 09/ 06/2011
Dedicated to Luciano Colombo

Via Diretta East Face Nevado Santa Cruz Chico (5800m)
Enrico Rosso, Paolo Stoppini, Fabrizio Manoni 16/06/2011
600m, TD+
Dedicated to the alpinist and Mountain Guide Marco Forcatura

Expedition Fila Nevado Santa Cruz 2011





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