The Northwest Ridge is a fine moderate snow climb (alpine grade PD) with few objective hazards and occasional exposure. Snow and ice up to 45 degrees is encountered, as well as a brief 10 meter mixed downclimb (the crux of the route). One ice axe, crampons, and rope are required.
Approach to the Tapush basecamp generally takes two easy days - one to the lake community at Jauacocha and a second heading South over Yaucha Pass to a camp one hour North of Punta Tapush. Ample time should be allowed for acclimitization. Inquire locally (in Huaraz or Chiquian) about donkey hire. Most climbers visiting Diablo Mudo will be trekking in the area - in this case Diablo Mudo is reached towards the end of the clockwise circuit around the Huayhuash after crossing Punta Tapush.
Snow slopes above the crux
From basecamp below Punta Tapush, traverse east across marshy meadows and over several small moraines to reach a large moraine descending to the Northwest from Diablo Mudo. Climb this moraine and continue to follow sporadic cairns up the steepening slope to the base of a cliff. A rocky gully gives passage through the cliff – the footing is generally good and the rock solid, but the terrain becomes quite steep as the gully reaches the ridge crest. An early alpine start will mean that this terrain is covered in the dark or early light – it may be worthwhile to scout this portion of the route the night before climbing.
Upon reaching the ridge, hike and scramble upwards until reaching a large red gendarme. Pass this obstacle on the west side of the ridge, and traverse across mixed scree, rock, and perhaps a little snow before climbing up towards 5250 meter Silent Col, located behind the red gendarme. Crampons, ice axe, rope, and perhaps a couple of snow and/or ice anchors are necessary beyond this point. Climb up the broad ridge, overcoming a rocky outcropping. The downclimb of this outcropping is the crux of the route – either rappel or downclimb the 8 meter mixed snow, ice, and rock step to reach a small flat shoulder.
From the shoulder, climb the enjoyable undulating snowy ridge as it passes several minor false summits up to the broad summit plateau. There is some exposure along the way, and the ridge reaches 45 degrees in several places. The view from the summit is spectacular, taking in a panorama from Jirishanca to Yerupaja, with up close views of Huacrish and Tsacara Grande.
To descend, either retrace the route of ascent, or alternatively continue to the East down steep snow slopes to reach the loose upper slopes of the Huacrish valley. Traverse to the left while descending to avoid some cliff bands, and head for easier scree slopes that lead to the valley below. The hike back to Jauacocha down the Huacrish valley is long, hot, and tiring after the morning’s climb, but views across the valley more than make up for the hike out. Allow at least seven hours to return to a camp below Tapush, or nine to ten hours to descend all the way to Jauacocha.
One long axe
"A climber's day always starts at the crux: getting out of bed."