San Juan West Ridge
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Routes in Quilcayhuanca Valley
|Maparaju Standard Route AI1-2|
|San Juan West Ridge AI3|
|Type:||Ice, Alpine, 2000 ft, 8 pitches|
|FA:||To be added|
|Page Views:||69 total, 4/month|
|Shared By:||Ryan Marsters on Jul 27, 2016|
There's a gate at the start one must pass through. Hikers are free but they charge 20 soles per mule each way (2016).
DescriptionNote - I did not summit due to weather, so consult a guidebook.
The standard start described in Johnson's book is out, thanks to glacial retreat. There are now two options to gain the ridge.
Option 1: There's a gray and tan soft scree ridge which gains the rocky left ridge on the approach. The start of this ridge is below high camp, though some class 3 scrambling and 100 ft of drop could see you on the gray slopes as well. Climb up the steep and tedious scree to an obvious and cairned third, perhaps 4th watching for loose rock, class weakness in the ridge. Scramble along the ridge and rejoin the glacier route.
Option 2: There's another steep and tedious loose gully angling right from the glacier tongue. This gains the west ridge significantly lower than standard, but it goes. This route is tricky in the dark so I highly recommend scouting it.
The ridge itself consists of mostly narrow corniced ridge punctuated by a steep cornice climb along the ridge and another steep alpine ice climb to the false summit (the bypass did not look great). It looks like one could swing to a face around both at 70 degree alpine ice and snow or so. Reportedly, conditions vary between AD+ and D. Expect 3-6 rappels to descend.
The east side of San Juan also has viable routes from the Maparaju approach, however, these appear to have quite a bit more objective hazard.
LocationFrom the Quilcayhanca valley and a mile or so above the main valley junction along the right fork (2.5 hrs from the TH), locate a steep, narrow tundra and scree ridge on right between two parallel waterfalls. This is immediately prior to a small hill on the right side of the valley bottom. Supposedly, the other ridges work too and I'm guessing there's a cow trail further up valley, but we didn't climb them. This sucks. It really does. Grunt up for several hundred feet, one loose bit of scrambling, until the angle eases atop some knolls.
From the grassy knolls, either swing way right to grass or continue straight ahead and surmount a short cliff left of a waterfall (4th class). Continue following the cairns and climb another, larger cliff via a 3rd class gully and ledge. More grassy wacking and then a gray scree soul-sucking ascent to the usual high camp with views of the slabs and peak.