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  New route Limitless Madness (VI, WI6, 5c, 1900 m) in Yerupaja (6617 m, NE face)

Mate Mejovsek just came back from Cordilliera Huayhuash, Peru, where they (climbing friend) climbed a new route Limitless Madness (VI, WI6, 5c, 1900 m) in Yerupaja (6617 m, NE face). The line they chose was very dangerous climbing because of falling seracs, glaciers and rocks from the top of mountain.

Madness. Limitless madness!

It all started pretty shitty. At the end of the winter climbing season I got myself into an accident while climbing one of the routes in the Julian Alps – the result was a broken ankle… With other words – the medical diagnosis - two months of the plaster cast, and slow, at least three months rehabilitation, if the fracture was healing normally.

Pure disaster! All the big plans for climbing in Pakistan were cancelled. The next weeks were passing by in struggle with crutches and then slow stumbling on short walks, driving me nuts. I knew I would have to go somewhere over the summer and the only alternative solution that seemed possible was Peruvian Cordillera.

Huaraz, Peru, seven weeks later: after acclimatization ascents on Pisco (5752 m) and Ranrapalca (6162 m) we (my two Slovenian friends and me) decided to set up a new route on Yerupaja (6617 m ) in Cordillera Huayhuash. Seeing the photo of the mountain we were thinking: “This must be the mountain, this must be the place we are looking for…”.

This year’s weather in Cordillera Huayhuash was fortunately very stable and sunny. After setting up the Base Camp at the end of  Laguna Carhuacocha we started the ascent. At 4800 m we set up the ABC and made there a deposit of the gear and the food.

Three days later we attacked the wall but already the first few pitches showed up to be hard mixed climbing, especially by porting heavy backpacks with the supplies for the four-day climb. The ascent was combined with mighty cracking of seracs above us. Without exaggerating there were few tons of ice and snow that fell down during the climb. Too close to us!! I think these were the moments when we discovered why the face was last climbed in 1977 – what we were experiencing was pure craziness. (Canadian Jeremy Frimer, a climbing specialist of the area later commented: ” Wow, you guys got up into there? The glacier must have been terrible!«.)

The middle part of the route surprised us with huge seracs that were closing the direct passage to the upper part of the face. It was right there that we climbed the first “six” in the ice (WI6.) Well, all is possible if there is a good will and physical and mental condition or as my friend Tadej was saying: “ …just the will, the animal will is what matters!”

Late in the evening we set up the tent at 5600m. We were tired but the night we passed with cooking and debating about the days to come… All around us was peaceful and quiet. Early next morning we continued the ascent by the big ice gully in the left part of the face that was closed by steep rocks on its left side. First rocky pitch and overhanging serac were for breakfast and later on another WI6. Continuing we were facing numerous pitches that were like doing Jackson route in Les Droites (Chamonix, France).

At about nine in the morning the wall became alive again. Stones and rock blocks were falling like projectiles. It was like a battlefield! War!!!!! We felt practically “dead meat” in the gully where all things from the upper part of the face were coming down. For something like that you have to be crazy or at least you need lots of good luck.

Finally the inclination of the face became minor and the climbing was easier. But we were already high and the altitude effect started to attack our bodies – slow climbing, deep breathing and more and more rests. At least the wall settled down and we continued towards a big serac that was closing the last part of the climb.

There was only a long headwall in front of was, pitches were long and numerous, taking last bits of strength from us. The fog slowly covered the face and it started to snow. The air cooled down for like 20 degrees C very fast. Just before the dark we reached a big serac and we continued passing rocks towards the left in the direction of the ridge. The difficulties just didn’t want to stop when Tadej finally managed to make the last pitch to the East Ridge that was first climbed by the Italians in 1982. The snowing was more and more severe and avalanches of the powdered snow covered the wall.

I couldn’t believe the climb was finished. We were all happy and what an absurd! – all the hard work and all the suffering was sort of forgotten; we had only one wish – going down as fast as possible. But “the down” was so damn far…

The route Limitless Madness (VI, WI6, 5c, 1900 m), on the NE face of Yerupaja (6617 m), Cordilliera Huayhuash, Peru, was climbed from the  28th till 30th July 2003, by Matevz Kramer, Matej Mejovsek aka Teyko and Tadej Zorman (Slovenia); 26 hours of actual climbing and 12 hour actual descend; 38 pitches.

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