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South America, Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, Fitz Roy, Super Couloir

FitzRoy, Super Couloir. On October 19, Jim Quirk and I arrived at the Piedra del Fraile on the Río Eléctrico, north of Fitz Roy. After stormy weather, on October 23 we hiked up steep slopes and moraine above the Piedra del Fraile, crossed the Paso del Cuadrado and descended to the upper North Fitz Roy Glacier to the base of the Super Couloir in about six hours. The weather again turned bad, aborting several more tries. At eight P.M. on October 28, we set out again and were at the foot of the Super Couloir at two A.M. The route began with 3000 feet of moderate 40° to 60° névé with occasional steep, narrow spots of mixed rock and ice. That entire section can be simul-climbed on a short rope. In the dark, we mistakenly followed the prominent left fork and had to tangle with four pitches of difficult rock and a long tension traverse and aid pitch before regaining the route. From the terraced section in the middle of the couloir, we climbed several fifth-class pitches up and right to join the sunlit ridge at two P.M. The ridge is mostly fourth-class with a few short technical sections up to 5.8. At four P.M., we began the first of several striking towers that were the technical crux of the route and had many steep, wide crack pitches up to 5.9. At seven P.M., we rappelled off the final tower onto the summit slope. We reached the top at eight PM. We descended by rappelling the Franco-Argentine route and were on the glacier by dawn. The hike down to the Rio Blanco camp and back around to the north side of Fitz Roy took the balance of the day. We reached Base Camp at six P.M., 46 hours after leaving.

David Nettle, Unajfiliated