AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

South America, Chilean and Argentine Patagonia, San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo. In the first days of December, 1971 Bill Stephenson and I flew by light aircraft from Coyhaique to the small village of Cochrane, a little west of Lago Cochrane and close to the junction of the Río Baker and Río Salto. We continued by horse up the Río Salto and Río Tranquilo to its head. As expected, the weather was bad, but this summer was the worst known by local people for years. Camp was at bush edge, sheltered and with good water and firewood. But it was nearly Christmas before a fine day let us walk to the glacier coming in from the left (east) to camp at the head of this glacier. From here we followed the route of Alberto M. de Agostini’s first ascent 28 years ago; i.e. over a pass onto a big snowfield that drains directly west to the Río Salto. We had to follow around a considerable way to gain access to an icefall. We forced a route up the left side through fantastic ice shapes and crevasses to the ridge, always hindered by mist. Like Padre Agostini, we had to plod, cut and struggle forever upwards, hardly seeing a feature in the mist, to what must have been the top (12,008 feet). Agostini’s camp was much higher than ours and this is to be recommended. (An Australian-American pair tried the direct approach to the northwest ridge from the Arroyo San Lorenzo this year, but the summit was a long way off still for them.) We rounded off our stay by climbing a number of new peaks: the eastern high peak of the Cadena Cochrane, i.e. the left peak seen looking up the upper Río Tranquilo (c. 9250 feet); three peaks on the ridge west of the upper Tranquilo, two tackled from the Tranquilo and the third from the parallel valley to the west, which descends to the Colonia Vogt. To complete bearing data and to get a more complete picture of San Lorenzo we climbed a prominent peak in Argentina. From Agostini’s description and photograph it could have been his Cerro Hermoso but we found no cairn or record.

Peter Barry, New Zealand Alpine Club