Friday, April 16, 2010

Route Profile: Artesonraju

Artesonraju is perhaps the most famous mountain in the world.

What? You've never heard of it! Well maybe not, but you've definitely seen it. The 19,768 foot mountain's north side inspired the current incarnation of the Paramount Pictures logo. And at the start of movies all over the world, climbers drool over the fantastic lines that exist on the seemingly imaginary mountain.

The truth is that Artesonraju is a real mountain in Peru's Cordillera Blanca. Often compared to Peru's more well-known Alpamayo, Artesonraju has a similar shape and profile. It is a perfect pyramid with beautiful clean and steep slopes leading directly toward the mountain's tiny summit.

And while Artesonraju looks similar to Alpamayo, it is different in two very important ways. First, it is nowhere near as well-known as its neighbor. This keeps the crowding down. And second, the standard route on Alpamayo has a considerable amount of objective danger. Artesonraju doesn't have anywhere near the number of cornices threatening it's flanks as Alpamayo.

The Southeast Face of Artesonraju is as classic as they come. The route works directly up a massive slope with a gradient that ranges between 45 and 55 degrees for most of the way, but is capped by two pitches of 60-70 degree terrain. Most climbers will pitch the route out, climbing nine to twelve rope-lengths straight to the mountain's summit. Once on top, one still needs to make a dizzying descent down the terrain he or she just climbed. This is generally done with a combination of rappels and downclimbing.

The Southeast Face went out of condition last season. A catastrophic avalanche cut down to rock. It is expected that this route will slowly rebuild it's snowcover. Last season we began to run trips on the north ridge, which is quite similar. The coolest part of the north side of the mountain is that it is the side that was used as the Paramount Pictures model.

Following a short photo essay from a series of trips to the mountain.

The Southeast Face of Artesonraju is the right-hand face.
Photo by Andrew Wexler

Artesonraju High Camp
Photo by Andrew Wexler

The Andes of the Paron Valley
Photo by Marco Gabbin

Alpamayo can be seen on the left. Artesonraju is on the right.
The souteast face route climbs up just right of the rock ridge in the center of the picture.
Photo by Marco Gabbin

To learn more about Artesonraju, check out our webpage on the mountain, here.

--Jason D. Martin

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