American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chilean and Argentine Pataognia, Crossing the Northern Continental Icecap

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1970

Crossing the Northern Continental Icecap. The expedition of Rokko Jesuit High School in Kobe consisted of Isao Ikawa, Mimio Matsunaga, Shuji Iwata, Hiroyuki Maekawa and myself as leader. On December 22, 1968 we all gathered in Puerto Eden and waited there for the boat to take us to Fiordo Exmouth. On January 5 Father Baeremaecker, S.J., arrived with his boat. On the 6th and 7th he carried us and our baggage to the fjord, past the Glacier Pío XI, which we had hoped to ascend but which was too cut up. It was three miles from Fiordo Exmouth to the Icecap at 4600 feet through bushes and forest and ending with a 1600-foot rock face. Though it rained every day, by January 26 we had established Camp IV on the Icecap, having carried up 1325 lbs. of supplies. Having put together the sledge, we started the crossing on January 28. There was snow, sleet and mist every day, but still no wind to speak of. We had to carry half the baggage on the sledge at one time. After marching by compass for half a day, we made a depot and returned to our tents. The next day we packed up camp and took the rest of the supplies despite the bad weather. From February 1 to 3 we had the only clear days of our 61 days of travel. To our north and east were Lautaro and Mariano Moreno, 3 miles away. To the south, where we were heading, was the Cordón Riso Patrón. On the 8th we pitched Camp VIII at the foot of the pass to the Argentine. After one storm on February 15 we were camped on the pass at 6500 feet. We hoped for a chance to climb Riso Patrón. On February 16 Matsunaga and Maekawa headed southwest on skis across the plateau towards six peaks. They climbed the farthest one, which they had thought was the highest,but on top they saw another higher one, for which they had neither time or weather. On February 18 a Patagonian storm hit. We moved a little on the 19th with our baggage, now 650 lbs. After that we could not move for ten days. Ten feet of snow fell in three days with 65 mph winds. Although we saved food, on February 28 we were reduced to seven days’ food, and we would need seven days to get to Estancia Cristina. Though it was still snowing, we set out on the morning of March 1 by compass. In the afternoon we could see blue sky and Fitz Roy in the north. We were saved. We descended south down the Upsala Glacier on March 2 through 5. We left the glacier, sure it was the valley of Cristina. On the 6th we abandoned the tent, believing we would be at Estancia Cristina that same day. We reached the crest of a ridge and looked down into the valley of Cristina. There we saw Lago Anita. It took about half a day to reach the valley by getting down a 1000-foot rock wall. We got to the estancia only the next day at three p.m., where we were kindly received by Mr. Masters and his family.

Hidetaro Sakagami, Rokko Gakuin Alpine Club

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