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BLOG | NEWS | 11 August 2016

Siula Grande: First Ascent of East Face Climbed by French Team

French Alpinists ascended the unclimbed East Face of Siula Grande in Peru via their new route 'Le bruit des glaçons'

Max Bonniot eyeing up the East ridge of Siula Grande
Source:Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne
Photos: Max Bonniot and Didier Jourdain, GMHM

The Siula Grande is a mountain in the Peru Andes, specifically located in the Cordillera Huayhuash, with a height of 6344m. The first summit was achieved via the North Ridge in 1936 by a German team that was ahead of their time but the mountain reached legendary status after the dramatic turn of events that took place in 1985 when the mountain was climbed by Britain's Joe Simpson and Simon Yates which was later documented in the book and film “Touching the Void”.

This summer, two talented French Alpinists and members of the Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne, Montagne Max Bonniot and Didier Jourdain, decided to take on the mountain’s East Face.

The line of the route 'Le bruit des glaçons' on the East Face of Siula Grande, Peru
They set up base camp at Laguna Siula after an initial attempt was prevented due to bad weather but on August 24 they were finally able to start up the East Pillar, climbing the huge buttress that protects the upper reaches of the mountain with two bivouacs. This Pillar was no easy task as it has an altitude of 5700m to the summit, with sections of 6c grade climbing, yet it was necessary in order to open the gateway to the SE ridge of the mountain.

Resting up in a bivouac during the ascent

Climbing in the cracks of the East Pillar
When at the top of the Pillar, they rappelled down 100m to the east edge of Siula Grande. They began their climb on August 27, almost immediately as they were worried about imminent bad weather. With only a minimal amount of gear, they ascended along the 750m high, 70° ridge. The climbing was arduous and extremely physical so at 23:00 they settled down for their third night on the face in an ideal bivouac, cut out of a crevasse, perched at 6200m.

On the SE of Siula Chico
With growing concern regarding the weather, they left early the next day and reached the summit of 6344m at 8:00 am. "The summit euphoria made my smile freeze, being together up there was emotional. The ambient was idyllic, not a breath of wind, you could not ask for more" explained Bonniot. He went on to say "It felt small and isolated because of the long descent, and the Bergschund 1400m down below looked even more distant! But that's exactly what we searched for on this still unexplored face."

Euphoria on the summit
After another bivouac, the descent was rather smooth, which can’t be said regarding the British mountaineers thirty one years earlier, and at about 14:00 on Sunday August 28, Jourdain and Bonniot safely touched down on the glacier.

After another bivouac the descent, contrary to that of the British mountaineers thirty one years ago, ran smoothly and at about 14:00 on Sunday August 28 Jourdain and Bonniot safely set foot on the glacier.

Rapelling the Pillar
They named the new route “Le Bruit des Glaçons”. It reaches 1400m and breaches 750m of rock climbing up to 6c, and 750m of snow and ice up to 70°. It was climbed in alpine style over five days and without placing any bolts.

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