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Iker Madoz: “I haven’t had any problem with the altitude, so I’m keen to be at the foot of another mountain of this type.”

Our friend Iker Madoz, with Marc Toralles and Roger Cararach, has carried out the first repeat of Tambo, Churros y Amigos on the Jirishanca, in the Huayhuash mountain range of Peru, on a route with a 1000m elevation change, 7a A2 M4 95°, and practically without equipment.

“On the 17th of August the three of us were in Huaraz, already perfectly acclimatised, and we started out and headed for the route. On the 19th of August at midday we began the first pitch, where we were surprised by the amount of soil in the crevices. This fact made us go slower than expected and we spent two whole days opening the first three pitches, which without being difficult required us to do a lot of cleaning work. After fixing these three pitches we returned to the base camp for more food and to rest for a day before climbing the wall.

So on the 22nd, while it was still night, we reascended the first three pitches and at the crack of dawn we began to climb. That same day we arrived at R9 at about 5350m on a bivouac shelf after climbing one of the most beautiful pitches of the route, 7a and continuously vertical for 60 m.

On the 23rd we climbed to the next bivouac R16 at 5650m overcoming rock pitches up to 7a A2 and stretches of snow and ice.

On the 24th we successfully completed the three vertical 6c upper pitches of perfect rock to reach a height of over 5700m and we climbed the first roof of ice without much difficulty.

On top of the first roof of ice, at about 5850m, we set up the third bivouac on a snow shelf. In the afternoon we fixed 120m of rope to make our assault on the summit of Jirishanca without weight. We fixed the rope above the second roof of ice which we scaled by aided climbing. This was at approximately 5950m.

After six days of spectacular weather, at dawn on the 25th we arose to find ourselves inside the cloud and with strong winds. Thanks to the satellite phone we called Casa Zarela in Huaraz to get the forecast and decide if it was worth waiting a day. After the bad news about the wind forecast we decided to take down the fixed rope and head back down. We hadn’t reached the summit but had the satisfaction of having climbed the route.

After more than 20 abseiling descents, and almost at night, we arrived at the base camp. The next morning, from the safety of the base camp, watching the gale that was blowing high in the mountain we were glad of the decision taken the previous morning. We decided that there was no more time for another attempt and that it would be better to return to Huaraz and drink some beers in El Tambo.

 All three of us are very happy about this first repeat of a spectacular route. Not only because of the wall and the surroundings but also because of the style of the opening that is so rare these days. It is a route that has not been expanded. Only two groups have been involved, the Japanese group and the Italians who opened the route. And there are only 12 fixed pitons, all from abandoned expeditions on the descent, and no fixed rope in the pitches along the entire route. Many congratulations to the openers Didier Jourdain and Aymeric Clouet for style and ethics,” Iker tells us.

What about the performance of the garments?

They have been up to the task. Here the temperatures and weather conditions are not too harsh, so it’s not too demanding. Of course, when we were climbing in the shade in the afternoon it was cold and I used the Primaloft jacket a lot. I climbed very comfortably with it, although it was a little battered due to the rubbing of the abrasive rock.

The Malaspina jacket is wonderful, warm and elastic. With the hood it is very versatile.

The sleeping bag also came in really handy for the nights in the open air. And also for the nights in the tent, where, due to condensation, the bag became damp but without actually getting wet, thanks to the quality of the outer fabric and the water-repellent down.

- What are you most satisfied about?

About the route we climbed. The three of us were well acclimatised and had no problems with the altitude, so that we were able to enjoy the route.

I also enjoyed the good atmosphere and understanding of the rope team. We’ve had a good time.

- What was the best moment?

No specific moment stands out. The two weeks that we have spent together have been fun, both the preparations and the activity itself, and the celebration afterwards in El Tambo.

- What difficulties did you encounter?

The hardest thing was to pick up the backpack after each stop. It was very heavy, as it was loaded with food, clothes, equipment for sleeping and snow, and it was torture to lift it up. At these times we were aware of the altitude and our hearts accelerated considerably.

The climb was not too difficult. We found soil in the crevices beneath us, and we had to do more aid climbing. And from the 4th pitch we were able to climb free, which was more fun and faster; without encountering remarkable difficulties, and with the usual amount of effort.

 - What will be your next trip?

In August I hope to continue climbing, but closer to home. If there is money left and the weather is good a trip into the Alps might also be possible. You have to take advantage of the good acclimatisation to climb high altitude routes! But it’s not definite. We’ll have to see. It would be good. 

The next big trip will be in October, with the Spanish Mountaineering Team, to Nepal. This is the “end of course” 5-week trip, where we hope to climb in the Rolwaling Valley. Let’s see if we’re lucky.

How did you feel about this trip in the end?

Very good, and keen to return. I haven’t had any problem with the altitude, so I’m keen to be at the foot of another mountain of this type.

As often happens, when you go to a new place you always find more tasks for the future; and here there are several and of good quality. So we’ll have to come back.

I imagine that if we’d reached the summit, we’d be even happier. But we were able to finish a route that hadn’t been repeated, and had to struggle to do so. That’s rewarding in itself.

 

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