OverviewRajuntay (Ra hun tie) is in in the Cordillera Central, a range just inland from Lima. The area has had little development and although ascents date back to the 30's, visitors are generally few and far between as most climbers bee line to Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca. This means that great looking peaks like Rajuntay receive little attention. Most modern development has been made by local Peruvian mountaineers and detailed info is not widely available.
Rajuntay is held in high regard by Lima based climbers, as most attempts are thwarted by poor weather or conditions. It is a peak with aesthetic lines and great situations, both on the approach as well as the upper buttress.
It's height seems unconfirmed, as maps are unreliable. But it's not too high and with an easy approach from Lima, it has the attractive quality of being doable in a long weekend.
The height seems debatable. The (old & inaccurate) local map states it as 5412. My altimeter watch said 5435m at our high point just shy of the summit. But the change in the weather could have affected this a little. Some references state the summit as 5450m.
Getting ThereDrive up the Carretera Central from Lima, towards Ticlio. Depending on traffic and the capacity your car has for overtaking, San Mateo will be reached in as little as two hours. This is a small town at around 3000m. A good place to stay for the night is Hostel Americanas. There is secure parking for the car, clean cheap rooms and food in the cafe. They do a good cheese sandwich to take on the hill the next day. Staying overnight here helps with the acclimatisation.
The next day keep driving up the Carretera Central, through spectacular gorges and rock scenery. The road will take a sharp right turn and a mining track traveling parallel to the railway turns off to the left about 40 mins / 1 hour above San Mateo. This is the 1st substantial left turn after San Mateo and is now being improved due to increased mining operations in the area. The area is known as Chinchan.
You are now at about 4200m. Continue up the valley on increasing switchbacks to a pass at about 4800m, then descend slightly on the other side, until a sharp right turn cuts back and Rajuntay is visible in all it's glory!
If you do not have a 4x4 then a getting a taxi from San Mateo to this point is usually no problem, but you'll have a longer walk in.
Otherwise, descend to the valley and drive by the farm house. It's worth stopping bay and saying a friendly hello and possibly dropping off some food if you have some to spare. A small mine is a little further on, around to the right, and there is large area where the car can be parked out of the way. You are now at 4700m.
The approach from here, is best done by a slow rising traverse, around to the far side of the large snow ridge. You can either decide to camp at one of the many small lakes, or push on up to the now, well appointed moraine camp at 5000m. Some decide to camp on the snow ridge. Either way, strike for the summit from one of these two high camps.
Red TapeThere are no visas or permits needed. As yet there are no restrictions on the use of the mining roads.
CampingThe water is clean. There are some Llamas but not in high density of numbers. We took a filter for lower camps just to be on the safe side. Snow can be a little dirty, so taking some coffee filters is no bad idea for gritty moraine. The moraine camp may or may not have snow nearby or running water. This will depend season to season.
Local climbers ascend a new line in 2007. This line had melted out in 2010, but was full in 2009.
Local Mountain Guide, Alberto Hung has created a series of articles on the Peruvian hills, of which there are a good selection in the Cordillera Central.
Ben has made a great little vid of repeated visits, but U-tube has disabled the music. If it gets reloaded to Vimeo, I'll stick it on here.
Route Description & Gear.From the moraine camp, leave (early)and ascend the scree or snow gully behind the flat camp to the main glacier which is right (East) of the snow ridge. There are a number of ramps and lines of weakness that can take you in just under an hour to the main snow ridge. The best line of attack is the middle ramp. Scouting this out is no bad thing. Snow can make it easier. Loose, steep chossy rock in the dark can be a little exciting.
The ridge can be deep floundering snow, or crisp cramponing, it all depends on the whims of the season. It took us 3 attempts to climb this hill due to excessive snow. After an hour or so, a little sub summit will be reached at about 5250m. From here the snow ridge rears up to a greater angle and merges with the upper mixed pyramid by around 5300m or so. A direct line has yet to be climbed, so branching off left or right at the top of the snow arete is more likely and joining the Aero Peru or Camycam/Hung routes. See Alberto's website above for a topo.
We climbed the Aero Peru route as all other options were melted out as of August 2010. The previous year we'd been beaten back at the mini summit on the snow ridge by deep snow that had plastered the mountain. It is a cold mountain, and on all my visits (6 to this area) I have always thought that for it's height, it is much colder and windier than an equivalent hill in the Blanca.
As the ridge steepens, traverse out to the right to a rock belay, then continue around onto the South East Face on 50 - 55 degree snow and easy but loose mixed ground. Another pitch of the same type of ground, with possibly a tricky mixed step will take you up to the final rock ridge. Up until this point the difficulties are about Scottish II/III with a short crux of around IV, depending on the line taken. The snow is maybe 60 degrees at the steepest on average. This may depend on the season again and line taken. Out right it seemed less mixed and less technical, but with a few more snowy bulges. The snow was not good quality and was sometimes quite hollow or overlying rock.
There is great pillar to belay off at the start of the upper rock section. The pillar is at a small col, and the couloir of the Camycam/Hung route is visible down the other side to the left (west) side. Stepping off the snow onto the rock, involves some steep moves, but it's on relatively good quality rock, with massive holds, so all good fun! About UK Diff. The ridge then starts to ease in angle, but becomes broken and shattered. There is a square pinnacle of a sub summit (5435m by my altimeter) The main summit is about 20 metres beyond this and maybe 10m or so higher. However it involves some ridiculously loose rock and possibly some abseil shenanegans! With poor weather approaching, we called it quits here and had a picnic. It was just before midday and we knew that the 1st ascents of the two routes we knew of (including this one)had endured benightment, possibly from messing around on this last bit. We didn't fancy maintaining the tradition. It was about 11am on Sunday morning, we were still at sea level at 3.30pm on Friday and we felt quite tired and cold. What's more, the thought of making it back to Lima that night with oxygen rich air and clean comfy beds was more attractive than an exact summit. Our high perch was quite fine!
We descended to the moraine camp by 5.30pm, back to the car and driving home by 7pm and we got back to Lima by 10.30 that evening. A top quality weekend.
Double 60m ropes will make the abseils go well, and are recommended.
We encountered little ice. We took 4 screws and used only one. We probably could have got away with none, but as things vary season to season, it would be wise to take 2 or 3. A selection of wires (Wild Country/DMM size 3-9), pitons (2 blades, 1 lost arrow, 1 Z leeper), 2 hexes (small and medium rockcentric style) and 3 Camalots (0.5, 1, 2) were all used. Snow stakes are worthwhile. We took two, dropped one and and I'd recommend taking 3. There is usually some rock to belay off though.
Overall, I would give the route we did in the condition for that year about AD+ maybe D-