American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentine—Chilean Patagonia, Paine Towers and Fitz Roy Regions in the Southern Summer, 1991-2

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993

Paine Towers and Fitz Roy Regions in the Southern Summer, 1991-2. The weather from October 1991 to March 1992 was as usual changeable and harsh. Despite these “normal” conditions, at least eleven new routes were completed. Since periods of more than 24 hours of good weather are rare, such climbs have to be made in semi-heavy style, often using some fixed rope to avoid playing Russian roulette with the weather. To succeed in Patagonia, whether one uses fixed ropes or not, one needs moral strength and the will to climb in bad weather. This has been shown by such veterans as Fabio Leoni (six expeditions) and Mario Mànica (nine). It is not rare to have to wait out two or three months to be successful. The spirit between groups is normally excellent. On our arrival in January, however, we met the members of a victorious expedition dressed, curiously, in Spanish clothing. To understand this nebulous story, one must know that two-and-a-half years ago Spaniard José Luis Gallego and his team made an attempt on the Torre Central del Paine, which was beaten back by the cold. They left on the top of a projection a cache wrapped in plastic: 600 meters of fixed line, two climbing ropes, two portaledges, two sleeping bags, 150 carabiners, pitons and a quantity of clothing. Their route had been done, which is understandable, but the cache had been raided, which is not. A summary of the new routes done in the southern summer season of 1991-2 follows. In the Cerro Torre-Fitz Roy region, five new routes were completed. The ascents of the left side of the south face of El Mocho and the southwest face of the Aguja Poincenot by Jay Smith and Steve Gerberding have already been described on pages 164 to 172 of AAJ, 1992. Swiss Kaspar Ochsner and Michel Pitelka climbed a new line on the east buttress of Fitz Roy. Punta Val Biois, the spire between Fitz Roy and Aguja Mermoz, was climbed by Frenchmen Marsigny, Gabarrou and Vimal. Italians Salvaterra, Cavallaro and Vidi climbed the Brid- well route on Cerro Stanhardt, descended new terrain on the south spur and climbed Punta Herron by its northeast spur. These are described below in this Journal. Two Argentines who made the first female ascent of Guillaumet were Patricia Malatesta and Marcela Antonucci. In the Paine region, Vincent Sprungli and I climbed the east face of the Torre Sur and the west face of the Torre Norte. Two more new routes were done on the west face of the Torre Norte’s northern summit after we left. Five routes now exist on the east face of the Torre Central del Paine: (from left to right) Spanish-American-Argentine (1992), Italian (1986), German (1991), British (1992) and South African (1974). Of the two new routes, the Spanish-American-Argentine is described below; there is a full article on the British. There were two new routes on La Catedral by American and Italian climbers, which are also described below. Italians climbed a new route on the southwest face of the Cuerno Principal del Paine. A Briton and a South African climbed the west face of Paine Chico.

Michel Piola, Club Alpin Suisse

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