American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chile, Winter Exploration of the Southern Patagonian Icecap

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1962

Winter Exploration of the Southern Patagonian Icecap. On June 6 an expedition of the Club Andino Bariloche left for the region of Luguna Eléctrica, north of FitzRoy, in order to find out about the winter conditions on the Patagonian icecaps. The leader of the group was Carlos Sonntag and the other members were Dr. José Iglesias, Ernst Gebauer, Gregorio Ezguerra, Víctor Enevoldsen, Otto Weisskopf, Manolo Puentes Blanco, Teodoro Sifuentes, Renato Cattelani, Felipe, Olivieri, and Barrientos, the last three being from the Army. The primary objective was exploratory since this was the first winter expedition to these regions. The approach in vehicles took much more time than they had thought it would because of the deep snow and intense cold of the Patagonian plains. Out of the 50 days they were in the field, 40 were spent on the trip to and from the region and only 10 in the mountains. Therefore they were unable to cross the icecap or reach any summits. Nevertheless the twelve men all reached the plateau of the icecap, and Sonntag and Sifuentes went as far as the Paso de los Cuatro Glaciares (Pass of the Four Glaciers), while Iglesias and Gebauer climbed nearly to the top of Cerro Marconi North (first ascended in 1952 by Watzl and others of the Centro Andino Buenos Aires). The most valuable work of the expedition was done by Monolo Puentes, who completed the triangulation which Lliboutry began during the French expedition to FitzRoy in 1952; he also made meteorological observations and took excellent photographs. An interesting glaciological fact is that the Glaciar Marconi, which in 1952 discharged into Laguna Eléctrica, has receded some 400-500 meters from the lake. The expedition did confirm the old supposition that in the winter the climatic conditions are more favorable for this kind of undertaking (crossings, ascents to snow-covered summits, etc.) than those in the summer. There are many calm days, for the terrible Patagonian wind seems to take a vacation in the winter, and the temperatures are bearable.

Vojslav Arko, Club Andino Bariloche

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