American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chile, Mount Burney, Mount Bove, and Monte Francés, Tierra del Fuego

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1964

Mount Burney, Monte Bove and Monte Francés, Tierra del Fuego. On January 9, John Earle, Jack Ewer and I set out in a Zodiac inflatable boat from Estancia Skyring, 100 miles by road from Punta Arenas. On the 15th, after a moderately rough voyage and three portages, we reached the northern end of the lake system in the Muñoz Gamero Peninsula that we had found the previous year. From there we reached the southeast foot of Mount Burney and travelled right around it, collecting rock specimens and insects (columbola). The weather was very bad during the 16 days we spent in the vicinity of the mountain and we did not see the upper part of it once, though we passed through some spectacular scenery. The area covered by the volcanic massif is about 100 square miles. The mountain itself is heavily glaciated. We returned to Skyring on February 5.

On February 12, John Earle, Peter Bruchhausen, Claudio Cortés and I left Punta Arenas in the Chilean Naval Patrol Ship Cabrales and early on the 14th were put ashore with a month’s provisions in Olla Bay in the Beagle Channel. This cove had been used by de Agostini’s party when they climbed Monte Italia.* Our chief objective was to climb Monte Bove, which appears to be the highest in a group of mountains at the eastern end of the Cordillera Darwin. A map of the area published in. de Agostini’s book had led us to suppose that we could reach the western side of Bove from the head of the Italia Glacier, so we spent some days reconnoitring in that direction. We found, however, that we had been misled and so we returned to Olla Bay and moved our base a short way eastward along the coast. Our second sortie was more successful; we found a good route inland, and on the 21st we established a camp near the southern foot of Bove. The weather was mostly very bad and we experienced some gales, but there were short clear spells. There was a remarkable lack of névé on the upper glacier basins and higher slopes of the mountains. The surfaces were mostly composed of hard ice. While, on the whole, this helped us to move around locally, it made it difficult to secure our tent. On February 25 we climbed Bove, starting up the south face and finishing up the west ridge. A few days later, March 1, on a perfect evening we reached the summit of Monte Francés. On March 15 we were picked up by a small vessel of the Chilean Navy, Beagle, and taken to Puerto Williams.

Eric E. Shipton

* In the note on our last trip in A.A.J., 1963, 13:2, pp. 514-5, I stated that "Except for two peaks, Cerros Italia and Francia… which were climbed by the Italians in 1956, the Cordillera Darwin had not been penetrated before.” In fact, Agostini’s Italians only claimed to have climbed Italia and not Francés, as the name appears on the map in de Agostini’s book. — E.E.S. (Neither Mr. Shipton nor the Italians seem to have heard of the ascent of Monte Italia on March 24, 1937 by H. Teufel and S. Zuck. — Editor.)

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