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South America, Argentine—Chilean Patagonia, Cerro Cervantes

Cerro Cervantes. Sam Grubenhof and I arrived at Calafate on February 12. We hoped to find a way to the Glaciar Moreno and across the Brazo Rico to attempt Cerro Cervantes, which we believed was an unclimbed 7819-foot (2383-meter) peak below which Bill Tilman had walked in his 1956 crossing of the Patagonian Icecap. While obtaining permission to climb in Los Glaciares National Park, we learned that Cervantes had been climbed twice ( 1990 and 1991 ) and we met a local climber, Jorge Limos, who had made the first ascent. On February 13, we took a two-hour bus ride to the Glaciar Moreno snout and a half-hour boat trip across the Brazo Rico to the Base Camp of the Minitrekking Guides. From there, a pleasant three-hour walk along the right bank of the Moreno took us to a campsite which locals said had been used by Gino Buscaini. The following morning we quickly ascended 1000 feet to tree line and 2000 feet to the North Cervantes Glacier. Travel was easy until we reached a 500-foot, 40°, snow-and-ice slope in misty weather. We continued up in a whiteout until we reached what we thought was the summit. A brief clearing revealed the true summit further on, but the late hour and poor weather made us decide to retreat. Two days later, we completed the climb on Jorge Limos’ easier route. After a brief visit to the Fitz Roy area, we made an attempt on Cuerno Principal del Paine but turned back at six PM. at the base of the 500-foot summit tower in the face of a storm.

Silas Wild