Americans Complete ‘Astroman of Peru’

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Karma de los Condores Direct on Hatun Ulloc in Peru. Dave Anderson and Brady Robinson climbed the original 2004 route (red line) and then added five pitches to the main summit (green and yellow lines). Courtesy of Dave Anderson.

Access Fund executive director Brady Robinson leads the 5.11c 13th pitch of Karma de los Condores Direct. Robinson and Dave Anderson cleaned the upper pitches on rappel and placed one protection bolt before free-climbing the route. Photo by Dave Anderson.

Dave Anderson and Brady Robinson have free-climbed the full version of Karma de los Condores (V 5.11+R) in the Ishinca Valley of Peru, completing a 14-pitch route that tops out at around 14,500 feet. The main tower of Karma was free-climbed in 2005 by Wayne Crill and Kevin Gallagher, and the route became known as the Astroman of Peru for its clean, steep cracks on excellent granite.

Crill and Gallagher free-climbed to the top of a prominent buttress on Hatun Ulloc (aka Ishinca Tower) in the Cordillera Blanca, after establishing the route a year earlier. But a ridge traverse and two-pitch headwall remained unfinished.

Anderson, from Lander, Wyoming, and Robinson, the executive director of the Access Fund in Boulder, Colorado, had only two weeks for their summer vacation in Peru. After hiking into the Ishinca Valley, they acclimatized for several days by climbing up and down a gully on the right side of the formation in order to rappel the upper tower and clean vegetated cracks for free climbing. The two found no signs of human presence above the base of the final headwall, where an American party had rappelled during a free attempt on the full route in 2005. Anderson and Robinson placed one protection bolt at the start of what would become their 13th pitch and then returned to the base.

Brady Robinson walks down from the ca. 14,500-foot summit of Hatun Ulloc in the Ishinca Valley of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. Photo by Dave Anderson.

The upper pitches of Karma de los Condores Direct. At least one party (Andy Wellman and James Woods) had previously crossed the ridge to the final headwall, but they retreated from the base of the 13th pitch. Courtesy of Dave Anderson.

After fixing several pitches, they came back the next day and free-climbed the entire route, pinkpointing the crux roof pitch (5.11+) with some gear left in place. After the three-pitch ridge traverse (5.10R), they climbed a 5.11c and 5.9R pitch to complete Karma de los Condores Direct to the summit.

“All of the harder pitches were very well protected, while some of the 5.9 and 5.10 pitches had significant run-outs,” said Anderson, who confirmed the quality of the climbing.

To finish out their week in the Ishinca Valley, Anderson and Robinson simul-climbed the classic direct west face of Tocllaraju (6,034 meters) in a 13-hour round-trip from the lower base camp.

See a good video of the Anderson-Robinson ascent of Karma de los Condores at

Video on

First Ascent of Hatun Ulloc, Peru from David Anderson on Vimeo.

In 2006, Germans Hans-Martin Troebs and Marc Wolff climbed a new route on the east face of Hatun Ulloc’s initial tower. After climbing the first three pitches of Karma to a large, vegetated ledge system, the two traversed right and climbed the middle of the east face to complete Compañia Vertical (200m, 5.12b), with four protection bolts hand-drilled on lead.

Date of Ascent: July 29, 2008 (Karma)

Sources: Dave Anderson, American Alpine Journal

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