American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chilean—Argentine Patagonia, Southern Continental Icecap Crossing and Cape Horn

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

Southern Continental Icecap Crossing and Cape Horn. A French expedition, led by Jean-François Coste, set out in the last days of 1982 by yacht from the Argentine port, Mar del Plata, to reach, after a rough passage, the Fiordo Falcón via the Straits of Magellan. The skipper was Phillippe Facques. From the Chilean coast, they hoped to climb Riso Patrón, but accidents prevented even an attempt. After failing to force a way through the thickets beside the glacier, they turned to the moraine. There Thierry Leroy dislodged a huge block of rock and fell some 35 feet, suffering a fractured sacrum. He was evacuated with great difficulty. At the same time Denis Ducroz dislocated his shoulder. Finally on December 27, 1982 Jean-Marc Boivin, Dominique Marchai, Bernard Prud’homme and Dr. Jean-Louis Etienne set out. Despite miserable weather, they crossed the Southern Continental Icecap to the Fitz Roy region in ten days. (Previous crossings: H.W. Tilman from Fiordo Calvo to Lago Argentina, December 1955 to January 1956; E.E. Shipton from Canal Baker to Lago Argentina, December 1960 to January 1961 ; Takeo Yoshizawa from Fiordo Falcón to the height of land and back to Fiordo Europa, December 1971 to February 1972. ) The four regained their yacht at Puerto Williams. the climbers and sailors sailed for Cape Horn. After most of them had climbed to the top of the cape by an easy route on January 20, Boivin and Marchai descended an easy couloir, traversed to the foot of the steep south face and climbed back up the face. The rock was good for the first 350 feet but the rest of the way to the 1500-foot-high top was of miserably loose blocks piled one on top of the other.

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