Bolivia: Italians climb new route up Rumi Mallku

On Saturday, 11/06/2016 Enrico Rosso, Pietro Sella and Antonio Zavattarelli made the first ascent of Mindfulness, a new climb up Rumi Mallku (5900m), Cordillera Real, Bolivian Andes. A few days earlier, the 'Illampu 2016' expedition members teamed up with Davide Vitale to make the first repeat of the SW Ridge of Jaqusiri (5900m). Enrico Rosso provides the trip report.
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Rumi Mallku - preparations for the climb
Illampu 2016

Jaqusiri (5900m) is a spur of Chachakumani and is characterised by its long, cornice-ridden summit ridge. We found out about this mountain by chance, through our friend David Vitale, a great Andean climber at English teacher at the Penas missionary where we stayed during our trip to Bolivia.

Earlier this year Davide climbed a new route up this face with two Bolivian mountaineers. Probably acting on their advice, a few days before our arrival two young French mountaineers made the first ascent of the SW Ridge of Jaqusiri and continued on to the summit of Chachakumani. They called their outstanding ascent Black to Black.

In the local Aymara language the name Jaqusiri has various meanings, not all of which are positive. It sounds like: "he who lies down" collapses, tumbles ... let’s just call it a mountain that provides plenty of avalanches and rock fall. As a matter of fact, the West Face had no real objective dangers, thanks in part due to the season having been extremely dry. The Bergschrund however was wide and the snow had retreated too much, and the slabs that had appeared were too smooth to access the wall directly. We could have climbed a line up the arete in the centre of the face but it was unclear where the upper pillars, topped by slabs and snow, would have led.

Had it not been our acclimatisation climb we would probably have tried this line, but since this was our first route at altitude we opted to make the second ascent of the SW Ridge. This is about 500m high and 800m long, breaches both rock (5c) and ice (60°), and was climbed on Sunday 05/06/2016. From the summit we abseiled and down-climbed to reach the glacial basin wedged between Chachakumani and Jaqusiri and then, almost at sunset, we ascended back up to the col between these two mountains. In the dark we made our away across the glacier, tortured by the hot and dry season, and reached our tents on the moraine.

Subsequently we pitched camp at Laguna Glaciar, between Illampu and Anchouma. This time we planned to climb something in the Yakuma pyramid group and were impressed by the huge Rumi Mallku bastion that in the local Quechua language means Condor of Stone. The right-hand side of the west face of Rumi Mallku is marked by three large pillars and a long West Ridge. From the top of the last pillar, the one on the right, the ridge leads directly to the shoulder beneath the mountain’s summit.

To prepare for our climb we made a reccie on 10 June to the base of the face where we stashed our gear. We chose to ascend the left-hand pillar as this seemed the easiest and, at its top, the route rightwards towards the ridge appeared obvious. We set off at 4:00am from base camp and returned at 21:00. The rock on the pillars was, in general, good granite but often the cracks on its most compact sections were closed and the climbing, consequently, unprotectable. We descended by climbing down the icy south facing slopes that plunge down from west ridge and then returned onto the Anchouma glacier. The face still offers various different unclimbed objectives, primarily the large pillar on the right.

Mindfulness is 500m high and about 700m long. The climb was carried out on Saturday 11 June 2016 by Antonio Zavattarelli (Padre Topio), Pietro Sella and Enrico Rosso. The climb breaches up to grade UIAA VI terrain.

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