With the assistance of a grant from the Alpine Club Climbing Fund, members Tito Arosio and Saro Costa, with Luca Vallata, made the first ascent of the west face of Monte Quesillo in Peru's Cordillera Huayhuash.
The three young Italians found that the southern part of this massif still holds great potential for new routes on ice and mixed terrain.
After establishing base camp close to Jurau Lake, Arosio and Costa first attempted the unclimbed southeast face of Tsacra Grande (5,774m) from the Segya Valley.
The only route on this side of the mountain is the east ridge, a quality climb (D+) used to make the first ascent of the peak by Italians in 1964.
Arosio and Costa climbed a gully through the first half of the face at M6 and AI4+, to reach more snowy ground above
However, the attempt ground to a halt around 150m below the top due to typical Andean conditions: snow that was far too unconsolidated and dangerous to allow them to reach easy ridges just below the summit.
After a rappel descent and a few days rest they set off for the virgin west face of the rarely climbed Quesillo (5,600m)
Quesillo has been climbed by its north ridge (1964, AD-), by its northeast face (2006, D+), and to one pitch below the summit by its east ridge (2007, TD-, the British party retreating when struck by lightning).
The three young Italians took two days to climb a leftward slanting line up the 800m left side of the face to reach the crest of the north ridge.
Huge cornices prevented them continuing along the crest to the summit, so the three descended the ridge, naming their new line El Malefico Sefkow (ED2, M5+ AI5 A1).
After a period of bad weather all three climbers set off for the west face of Siula Grande (6,344m) and a repeat of the 2001 Jost-Mliner-Monasterio-Zerovnik route, Noches de Juerga, the only line they could see in condition
They retreated from 5,700m due to high temperatures, which caused snow melt and a significant risk of cornice collapse.
The day before leaving base camp they made a quick raid on the unclimbed west face of the attractive Huaraca (5,537m), immediately north of Quesillo and only previous climbed from the east.
However, their attempt was stopped at mid-height, the route being far more challenging than expected. Continuing would have involved aid climbing, and they were not carrying enough gear.
Nor did they have enough time: arrieros were scheduled to arrive next day with their donkeys to evacuate base camp. Therefore this small, but very steep face still remains virgin.
The Alpine Club has limited funds to grant aid expeditions. For more details visit the AC website.
The expedition was also supported by The Alpine Academic Italian Club (CAAI), Ferrino, Grande Grimpe, Scarpa and Grivel.