Tierra del Fuego

South America, Chile
Author: Eric Shipton. Climb Year: 1962. Publication Year: 1963.

The Chileans Eduardo García, Cedomir Marangunic, Francisco Vivanco and I left Punta Arenas on the Chilean Naval Patrol Ship Lientur on January 18, 1962, and were landed near the entrance of Bahía Broken, south of Seno Almirantazgo on the next morning. The same day we proceeded up the fjord in our inflatable rubber boat and established our Base Camp at the head of it with 45 days’ food. One week was spent transporting food and equipment over a pass to Advanced Base at the head of Marinelli Glacier. On February 4 we reached the summit of the highest peak in the Cordillera Darwin. (N.B. This was the peak marked 2464 meters (8101 feet) on the 1:250,000 Chilean map. It seems more logical to call this peak Mount Darwin and not the one marked as such, 2438 meters, on the map to the southeast.) By a series of progressive aneroid readings we worked out the height at 8700 feet and are satisfied that this is fairly close to the mark. The ascent was repeated on the 5th owing to poor visibility on the first occasion. Two more peaks in the group were climbed on February 1 and 6; we referred to them as Darwin II and III (about 8400 and 8500 feet respectively). Later we crossed the range and on February 12 reached a fjord joining Canal Beagle west of Bahía Pía. On February 22 we climbed Cerro Luis de Savoya (which lies some three miles north of the point marked as such on the map). We renamed it Cerro Yagán for the Patagonian Indian tribe. Geological and entomological collections were made. Bad weather was experienced during most of the expedition with extremely severe weather and heavy snowfalls, but we were lucky to have clear weather on all the peaks. We were picked up on Bahía Broken on March 2 by the Patrol Ship Cabrales. Later Maragunic and I spent a fortnight making an interesting reconnaissance of Monte Burney and the unvisited country surrounding it. Except for two peaks, Cerros Italia and Francia, by the side of the Canal Beagle on the southeast corner of the range, which were climbed by the Italians in 1956 (See AAJ 1957, 10:2, pp. 165–166), the Cordillera Darwin had not been penetrated before. It contains many fine peaks and some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen anywhere. One must be of course prepared for abominable weather.

Eric E. Shipton