Pou Brothers Announce Even More New Climbs. We Build a Timeline

To say that the irrepressible Hermanos Pou have enjoyed a productive season in the Peruvian Cordillera would be like saying water is wet.

Iker and Eneko have spent the past two months summarily demolishing every climb they’ve tried. It started way back in early June when they posted the first ascent of Aupa Gasteiz, a 7c+ free climb they first visualized in 2019.

The most recent news? On July 28, they reported that Iker had polished off the first 8c+ sport route in the Cordillera Blanca and that they’d summited two 6,000’ers.

We started struggling to keep up with the Hermanos Pou, so we constructed a timeline of their season in Peru.

June 13: The Pou brothers announce the June 2 first free ascent of Aupa Gasteiz (7c+, 170m). They’d gunned for the demanding line as early as 2019, but free climbing it eluded them throughout multiple visits over three years. Named after a town in their native Basque Country of Spain, the route lies at 4,200m.

pou brothers aupa gasteiz

On the first free ascent of ‘Aupa Gasteiz’.

 

Five pitches comprise the route, all at grade seven. Three of them narrowly miss the eighth grade.

“It is a beautiful and aesthetic wall. The first time we saw it, we thought it was like El Capitan in Yosemite, a smaller but much higher version,” they said.

June 21: It becomes clear that Aupa Gasteiz was a relative warm-up. The brothers climb an enormous route they call Bizirik (M6, 85° snow, 980m) to the 5,716m summit of Mount Cashan. The first ascent requires one 13-and-a-half-hour push. A hazardous descent ensues. “Bizirik” is Basque for “alive.”

Iker pou bizirik

Iker Pou on “Bizirik.” Photo: Alex Estrada

 

June 22: The brothers report the first ascents of Hanan Pacha (90°, 425m) and Emmoa (M6, 75°, 640m) in the little-explored Urus Oeste group. Years of preparation went into planning the stout ascents in the prohibitive region. Each climb required one day; the brothers climbed them consecutively.

July 13: The Hermanos Pou announce they have climbed “their best mountaineering route to date.” Climbing with Peruvian mountaineer Micher Quito, they established One Push (M7, 85° ice, 1,000m), the highest-standard big alpine ice climb of their prolific career.

one push pou brothers

Steep ice on ‘One Push’.

 

On the route, many “exposed” pitches lead to the top of Pumahuacanca, 5,563m. The hard climbing does not ease until above 5,400m. The brothers survive another treacherous descent — the climb took about 12.5 hours, and the descent 14 hours.

 

July 14: The brothers climb ¡Viva Peru Carajo!, another long, high-altitude engagement that demands M7 climbing. The new route takes 600m up the Nevado Humashuraju Este’s previously unclimbed east face and tops out at 5,350m.

The dominant climbing medium, the Hermanos say, is “thin ice slabs glued to the rock” among some mixed sections. They climb for 15 hours at temperatures hovering around -15˚C.

July 28: News of one high-standard sport climb and two 6,000m ascents arrives. Iker proposes that the physical demand on his 12m bolted rig Tres Leches reaches 8c+, which would make it the hardest route anywhere in the Cordillera Blanca.

iker pou tres leches

Iker Pou on “Tres Leches,” 8c+.

 

According to the brothers, the route required “enormous explosiveness that makes it only suitable for very strong people in the bouldering modality (few movements but really difficult).” Eneko belayed on the send.

Of course, that’s not all they’d been up to. The brothers also climbed Tocllarraju (6,034m) and the Ranrapalca (6,164m) in the preceding days. Eneko turned around on Tocllarraju, “much to his regret,” while suffering a bout of gastroenteritis. But the two did summit Ranrapalca together. They did not assign either climb a grade.

iker pou

Iker Pou on Ranrapalca.

 

The Pous’ long legacy continues

With a bond that seems unbreakable and psych that seems invincible, the Hermanos Pou have orchestrated first ascents together in 59 countries. Their first ascent together? The Pyrenees’ 300m Taillón in 1985, when Eneko was 11 and Iker was eight.

Now solidly in their 40s, there’s no evidence that they’re slowing down any time soon.