Mountaineering
Climbing
Expedition
30.09.2016

Two major opening routes in Peru by the GMHM

The members of the GMHM (Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne) return from Peruvian Andes where they took the challenge to open the Est face, yet unknown, of Siula Grande (6344m) and also the North face of Puscanturpa Este (5442m) both located in Huayhuash Moutain Range. The expedition seemed to be a perilous task, with the main objective of opening technical walls in high-altitude.
The expedition starts to the base camp located in Laguna Siula at 4330m. The GMHM forms two teams, the first-one will climb the Est face of Siula Grande and the second will make a new line in the North face of Puscanturpa Este.
 

 

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The first team composed of the Corporal Max Bonniot and the Captain Didier Jourdain begin on Tuesday, August 16 with the observation of the face they nicknamed “The sound of Ice Cubes” in reference to the base camp cradled by many falls of seracs.
 
On Wednesday, August 24, the climb may return and the group is now on the top of the “cap”, this vast expanse of snow and ice which overlooked Max and Didier until now. The first bivouac can finally be settled. 
 
«The next morning, difficulties come back»
 

 

 
The next morning, the difficulties about the climb come back and the serious doubts regarding the itinerary appear.  This will be the steep and vertical line just above, the idea is to identify the slightest weaknesses  of the wall because the GMHM didn’t took the bolts, which is the expansion dowels. So, they have to choose the easier way, but first, it must be found!  The group is quite lucky because the pitonning is easy and the weather pretty nice. A small platform based on the spine will be fine to spend the night, the location is precarious but appropriate to set up the bivouac !
 
Climbing up the rocky face continues until the Friday morning and after 750m climbing, they finally see the mountain peak at 5700m.  A second ascent can finally begin and it starts at the doors of the big Siula Grande’s ridge on the South Est face, this peak is still unknown by the general public but it has been famous thanks to Joe Simpson and Simon Yates in 1985 with their expedition related in the book “Touching the Void”.
 

But luck keep continue to smile at the group and the weather is still favorable. A disturbance is expected for the next day, it’s thus essential to reach the top before it arrives.  

 

«The effort has just increased: the two climbers engage in steep snow and ice slopes.»

 

 

The GMHM continue its rise but the effort has just increased: the two climbers engage in steep snow and ice slopes, making up the wide South Est ridge. The rise is particularly physical and fatigue appears for our climbers.  Meanwhile, night begins to fall and they finally make a bivouac into a crevasse, perched at over 6200m above sea level. This is the end of a beautiful day!

 

 
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5 AM the next morning, they have to hurry up!  Precipitations should be here in the evening however sun is up and the “South Cross” shines as never.  The peak is almost here. It’s around 8 o’clock when the Corporal and the Captain reach the summit at an altitude of 6344m. Euphoria is here and the landscape is fantastic on this face still unexplored. After the traditional “tea time”, the group can start in the downhill made up by successions of abseiling along the ice ridge.

 

This is a first victory for the GMHM who just open a new rocky itinerary  at an altitude of 6000m !

 

Meanwhile, the second group composed with Corporal Antoine Bletton, Sergeant Major Cyril Duchêne, Dimitry Munoz and Command Arnaud Bayol are set to climb the North Face of Puscanturpa Este. The first issues start to appear  at the foothills of the mountain: “how many meters of rope?  How many pitons? How long to reach the top? But also, which path to take ?
 

The first visual contact between the mountain and the group is really impressive and the first  200 meters are going to be really steep.

 

 

The goal of this expedition is to open a new itinerary in aid climbing and finally try to clean up the route at sufficient altitude.
 
The ascent start the 15th August with the setting of the Base Camp at “Seruacocha” at the altitude of 4818m (this is equivalent to Mont Blanc) and the next 15 days were marked by the same routine, which is one hour approach in the moraine and fallen rocks to reach the foothills Ascending fixed ropes, find a way to aid climbing and prepare the route for a future free climbing. Everyone agrees for the same goal : domesticate this face still unknown. And the troubles are not yet over for the four climbers  as Arnaud says during the opening-phase in aid climbing :
 

 

 
All the acclimatization phase, I’ve been thinking "can’t wait to be at the foothills of the Puscanturpa and to hit the pitons"
 

 

 
" Indeed, pitons were the worst enemies of basalt columns. The hexagonal parts is over 1m and up to 10 until 30m long propagating every hammers’s waves until belayers petrified. We avoid the hard steel pitons that made the rock like the corner which seeks to split the wood. But the cracks were often blocked. This let no choices and the mental rest depend on the best friend or hook. At our best, we spent 4 hours to reach 15m. But what I take from all this, is the way we domesticate an unknown route. First of all, the total uncertainly and then apprehension of the “new rock” and finally, day after day, we understand material, cracks logic, detours of the weak line. After 10 days, we’re happy to look at the line that Mother Nature let us approach Overtime, it’s probably this blank face that tamed us… "
 
After 8 days in the wall, the static ropes are laid out to the base of the last bastion and its around 2 PM that the 4 climbers finally reach the top and its panoramic view !
The following day, the ascent takes again and the four climbers work like a single rope. The first routes are between 6b and 6c, and the 5th, the one that had taken 2 days in aid climbing is finally open in 7b, which confirms the strong “vertical” nature.
 
Cyril says that this is a main task to open routes in free climbing, and it’s really important that 2 climbers needs to come one after another the same line to confirm the grade.
 

 

«goal achieved: GMHM open a new route in puscanturpa este»
 

 

 
The second expedition is a success and goal achieved : GMHM open a new route in Puscanturpa Este, a still unknown face, and moreover, succeed to climb every routes in free climbing.
 

GMHM come back from these expeditions fulfilled.  Beyond the sporty aspect to open a new route in high altitude, there is a real human adventure of a group who can count on each other when hand in the void. What a great story ! 

 

GMHM is now flown to a new expedition in alpine style to the Himalayas with Nangpai Gosum in the line if vision, a peak still unknown at 7296m. Can’t wait for the next episode !

 

Learn more by visiting GMHM website.