Jaume Peiró, 20, and Álex González, 18, have made the first ascent of Big Fighter after spending four days and three night on the northern spur of Chaupi Huanca (4,850 m) in the Rurec Valley in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca.
Peiró and González, a couple from Europe who are on a three-month climbing trip to South America, climbed the imposing line that had been attempted by a team from Ecuador and one from Argentina. The next closest climb is the 15-pitch 5.12 A1 called Qui Io Vado Ancora, climbed in 2006, which you can read about here.
The two strong climbers completed Big Fighter on July 3 and gave it a grade of 8a+?, 6c/A2 (5.13?, 5.11a/A2), after having acclimatized on the famous La Esfinge at 5,235 metres. After their time spent over 5,000 metres, they said, “It has been quite an adventure to climb at an altitude of over 5,000 metres. A new experience. Technically it was not too difficult, but physically it was. The speed of climbing and the altitude are not good allies, the head has a rhythm and the body has another.”
Big Fighter is named in honour of González’s 15-year-old brother, who has been battling cancer for several years. “A real fighter,” said González. “This route is for him and for all children who continue to fight every day to overcome cancer.”
Peiró and González are advocates for equality and have written about the subject a number of times. In a blog post titled Equality, a Summit Unreached, they said, “During all this time we have used our activities in the mountains, presence in social media to transmit a message of equality, in order to normalize and make homosexuality visible in sport.”
González has climbed Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, two routes on El Capitan, summited the North Tower of Paine in Patagonia, and has climbed in Jordan, Morocco and Canada. Peiró has climbed throughout Europe and North Africa, has been more focused on comps, sport climbing and bouldering. “Together we make a very good team,” they said, “and have completed some difficult climbs such as the Integral de Peuterey on Mont Blanc and the Pilar Cordier and Travesía Charmoz-Grepón.
Be sure to follow the two keen alpinists below, as they’ll surely be repeating and establishing more difficult routes during their time in South America.