The Shining Path, 5.7 600m
FA- G.Cornell and T.Devonshire, July 2002
Joy’s new neighbor! The Shining Path is about 100m longer and takes the slim corner in the middle of the big slab. The route is slightly more runout especially on the crux and the rock is much looser than Joy, again, much looser in spots, however it has been repeated a number of times since showing up on the scene. Take gear to 2″, pins, Tri-Cams, medium nuts and mandatory 60m ropes minimum. This route is more about the expansive vista of slab and the corner your on than what is worth of the climbing, however the 3 or 4 steep pitches after the 5.3 ramble is an incredible position. It seems every country and many climbing venues have a route named The Shining Path or Sendero Luminoso, this is one of many as is the route on the Ship’s Prow near Canmore with the same name(see Rock East for more info).
Park at Upper Kananaskis Lakes North Interlakes lot and hike for a half hour along the old fireroad(keep right) to the end of the lake then slog up the scree slope to the base of the slab above the boulder field.
Start as for Joy, and scramble the first 100m of slab to a steep black streak on the left wall. Climb its’ far left side and a traverse right to belay (5.6, 25m) Belay at the last shrub out left after about 300m of 5.3/4 climbing. Go back out right and up the corner to a belay. Continue up the corner for 6 pitches to a big ledge with a 2-bolt belay. Go up a broken gully and make a rising sweep on horribly loose rock(The Leprosy Pitch) up to a tiny alcove with the last bolt. Traverse up and right to the ridge. Either take the ridge to the summit or downclimb 15m to a notch and down to the backside scree which meets Joy. Hike off via a ramp to the meadows.
What we lugged up The Shining Path: many pitons, nuts, Tri-Cams, small-medium cams and 7 slings is likely enough as it’s more runout than Joy. The route was started in about 1998 and we had gotten half way up the slab at that point but a summer bear closure over a few sporatic weeks in the season prevented anything further until Tony came on board and the grizzly vanished.
Personal Trip into Peru, 1991
For anyone truly interested in finding out more about the conflict the Shining Path had upon Peru for the past number of decades- technically starting in the early 1960s and turning progressively violent in the early 1980s and coming to the point in 1991 when Peru was under a state of emergency- should read the history of this group, a book titled Shining Path of Peru by David Scott Palmer.
I was in Peru in 1991 for 3 months traveling and I even made an attempt on Nevado Huascaran which ended under a serac at 20,000 ft hiding from a deluge of avalanches which turned a Japanese team away days before. Back in Huaraz the northern Peru capital for climbing showed the least signs of Shining Path bullying as I was to see further to the south.
When I had entered Peru from a remote dusty, desert border crossing (with actual buzzards circling on the drive into Suyo), the very nice border guards had one request: they recommended you enter the country only if you were not traveling alone. Clearly not acting like what some may think South American border guards act like, they were actually looking out for our well-being and I recall that as one of my most pleasurable crossings I have ever done. So I hooked up with a couple from South Africa to overcome that hurdle. We understood their rule after noticing the many Wanted Posters on the walls of this office, mugshots of Shining Path members, and the other group also overrunning the country then – MRTA (Revolutionary Movement of Tupac Amaru). We stuck together for 3 months until we entered Bolivia.
Traveling the country by bus is the obvious gringo way – you got to be witness at that time, seeing the turmoil the country was clearly in. Shining Path had the least hold in the far north, but the closer one got to Lima the spray painted houses and businesses was more prevalent with slogans and communist symbols showing their reach and territory. Solidifying this, in 1991 the Shining Path killed two priests and the mayor in a province within the northern region of Ancash which proved they operated in the north as well as the south.
The fact Peru was in a state of emergency really showed entering Lima. There was a curfew in the core every night and my traveling companions and I accidentally ignored it one evening while attending a discotheque and then we tried crossing a main bridge that led back into the core: each end of the bridge had a tank stationed and excessive military personal. I had my passport on me so I was allowed to cross, but my friends could not. I asked the guard what ciggies he liked and if it was ok to go back to the hotel to retrieve my friends passports in exchange for a pack or two of smokes which he had no problem accepting; I think the South Africans got my supper the following night for my having to make multiple crossings of the heavily armed bridge back into the core. This was a very tense situation not for me, but my friends who absent-mindedly forgot to carry documents.
The streets of Lima looked like this in 1991: a vibrant city going on with daily life(and one of my favourite cities I have ever been to), signs of war within buildings, stealthy tanks roaming the streets night and day, and nearly every rooftop in the core patrolled by members of the military dressed in full black ninja wear including black balaclavas – it was a very intimidating image to see these guards atop buildings as you walked down the street. Adding to that, an edition of popular news magazine that summer ran the front page dedicated to the state of emergency Peru was in, capturing the perfect photo inside the magazine of a typical Lima sighting: that of trucks roaming the streets with black ninja military crammed in the truck box with soldiers pointing their guns at random angles so everything was covered should anything go awry. In early July, the South Africans took me to a district of Lima where we went to the house (with the help of the police locating his house) of a Englishman hiding from the Shining Path; the girl who opened the door was very fearful of our presence and said he had fled to England already and was planning on writing a book about his 30 years living in the Shining Path stronghold city of Ayacucho with this adopted family we were conversing with, some family members who were killed by the Shining Path.
Since it was nearly impossible as a foreigner to buy a bus ticket in 1991 to travel from Lima to the tourist city of Cusco as the bus must pass the regions of Ayacucho and Apurimac, we happily took a great detour way south and back up to Cusco, a detour of a thousand kilometers maybe. The bus ticket folks said we would be killed if the Shining Path stopped to rob the bus or preach in these districts. Heading north to Cusco from northern Arequipa province bordering Apurimac, was where we noticed the most prominent signs the terrorist group had been in all of Peru – many houses in rural villages were spray painted with hammer and sickle or had SL/PCP across doors, walls, fences. The photo of the MRTA painted white wall in the slideshow below is the only graffiti I guess I felt comfortable taking and having on film.
About 150m from the top of our route on the Indefitigable slab, Tony Devonshire told me about his trip to Peru in the late 90s with his father and how those signs of a country embroiled in conflict was now gone, that there was no ninjas atop buildings. His story was incredible about an accidental injury on the trail to Machu Picchu that resulted in crazy incidents that spawned from a medical emergency.
In early 1997, the story was still in the midst of unfolding in Lima when President Alberto Fujimori had the military finally storm the Japanese Ambassadors residence after months of a hostage situation and killed the members of the MRTA who had taken many high ranking officials hostage in December of 1996. Every paper around the world covered this incredible story on front pages for months detailing some, basically any movement in the situation. It was the second time in the few short years of Fujimori’s presidential promise to rid Peru of insurgents- the leader of the Shining Path Abimael Guzman was captured in 1992 which caused the lifeblood of this terrorist organization of 25,000 members to nearly collapse after the government staged an auto-coup as a means to take control of the country. The biography ‘The President who Dared to Dream’ by Rei Kimura is a great read for those interested in the history of Peru of the early 1990s with a great part of the book dedicated to Fujimori’s capturing of these two outfits.