new ascent in the little known Cordillera Quimsa Cruz

Enrico Rosso recounts the June 2017 expedition he led to the Cordillera de Quimsa Cruz massif in Bolivia, where the climb ‘Kamasa’ (250m, 6b, A2) was added to the north face of the Gran Muralla (5200m).

I left Italy with Marco Rainone and Giovanni Penna with two objectives: to work with “Università Campesina” and to try a new route on the south face of Ilimani.

Università Campesina is a project led by my friend Antonio Zavattarelli, priest and mountaineer, nicknamed Topio. Through his missionary in Penas, Topio is currently training Bolivian high school students to become tour guides. The best will even be able to progress and become mountain guides.

During the first part of our stay, we worked for the Università Campesina project; a series of lessons in the classroom and on the rocks near Penas, after which we then completed the program by climbing Nevado Chachacomani (6064m) and Nevado Condoriri (5648m).

When the school holidays arrived, the Bolivian children returned to their families and we began to plan the last leg of the expedition with Topio and some Missionary children, namely Davide Vitali, Rosmel Varillas Acuna and Ronaldo Choque Camargo (Aski ).

Heavy snowfall and unstable weather in May, combined with high winds, had created unstable conditions on the upper mountain slopes and, due to the high risk of avalanches, we decided to change plans and opt for the “rocky” cordillera of Quimsa. Cruz. Quimsa Cruz is a climbing eldorado in the Bolivian Andes; still little known, it is marked by magnificent granite peaks and a huge potential for new routes.

On June 18, we left for the small town of Viloco. Our group consisted of Marco Rainone, Antonio (Topio) Zavatarelli, Davide Vitali, Rosmel Varillas Acuna, Ronaldo Choque Camargo (Aski) and myself.

After setting up base camp at 4500m in the Kuchu Mocoya Valley, we spent the first day scouting and choosing an objective, finally settling on the north face of Gran Muralla (5200m).

About 250m high, it can be described as a high altitude cliff and it is certainly one of the most beautiful rock formations in the cordillera. We started our ascent on day two, focusing on a series of cracks on the right side of the north face. We completed the climb in 8 hours using mostly friends, nuts and stakes. The granite rock turned out to be of excellent quality: rough and sharp, although it must be said that the cracks were often filled with earth, grass and pebbles which slowed down progress.

We called the road “Kamasa”, which means courage in the local Aimara language. The course is 250m high with difficulties up to 6b and A2. Following a fall, Davide Vitali twisted his ankle and was forced to abandon the climb. He retired to base camp accompanied by Antonio Zavatarelli. For all the rest of the group, the ascent turned out to be a success.

The final assessment of the expedition was therefore very positive, especially given the cooperation with the “Università Campesina” project, which offers a bright future of qualifications and work to the younger generations on the Bolivian plateau.

by Enrico Rosso

Link: Grivel, Ferrino, Facebook Bolivia Alpine Style