Crystal under a southern sky, Alpamayo is the most beautiful one

A photo of a Peruvian mountain that was first published in Germany, gave Alpamayo the illustrious fame of becoming the world’s most beautiful mountain. In July 1966, the German mountaineer’s magazine Alpinismus, published an article based on a survey among experts in mountaineering, who had earlier elected the Alpamayo as “The Most Beautiful Mountain in the World”. Alpamayo Mountain beat Mount Godwin-Austen or Chhogori (K2) in the photo contest, although both pictures obtained four stars in the article. According to the survey the Matterhorn became third, Fitz Roy in Patagonia fourth, Mont Blanc fifth, Grandes Jorasses sixth, Siniolchu in India seventh, before Macha Puchare, Ama Dablam and the Weisshorn became tenth.

However, so we found out earlier this week, many years before the photo contest, Claude Kogan (1919–1959), a French female mountaineer and first conqueror of Alpamayo, had baptised it before as “The Most Beautiful Mountain in the World”. This happened in 1951 and it was Huaraz-born César Morales Arnao who was quoted in the article published in Alpinismus. ¨A perfect, thousand-meter-high pyramid of fir and ice sticks like a crystal into the deep blue sky of the south.¨ In fact, it was Mr. Morales who had sent the winning picture to the German magazine, so he informed our editor. Nevertheless, various Internet sources claim that the picture was taken by American photographer Leigh Ortenburger. Other people quoted are Hubert Adams “Ad” Carter, who stated that the Alpamayo Mountain is so pure white and wonderfully symmetrical that its elegant form inspires everyone. The article’s title is Kristall unter südlichem Himmel, which translates in English ¨Crystal under a southern sky¨.

The Huaraz Telegraph extensively interviewed Mr. Morales last week and found out that before he became the first ever Peruvian to conquer Mont Blanc, he had another important task to complete. The now 93-year-old former journalist and mountaineer crossed the Atlantic via the 77 km-long Panama Canal by boat, guarding carefully the bodies of two German mountaineers who suffered a deadly climbing accident in the Cordillera Huayhuash. Once when he arrived in Hamburg, Germany, he personally delivered back the remains of the deceased climbers to their family. The complete interview with Mr. Morales will be published in one of this year’s editions of The Huaraz Telegraph.

Photo: Front page of the 1966 July edition of Alpinismus magazine taken by Julian Ángeles Ríos, special thanks to Mr. César Morales Arnao

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