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South America, Tierra del Fuego, Monte Sarmiento Attempt

Monte Sarmiento Attempt. Philip Swainson, Susan Cooper, Henry Todd and I aimed to attempt the southeast ridge of Monte Sarmiento (2404 meters, 7888 feet). The only successful ascent to the east summit, the highest summit in the group, had been made by the south ridge by Italians Carlo Mauri and Clemente Maffei in Padre Alberto de Agostini’s 1956 expedition. It was meant originally to be a joint expedition with the Federación de Andinismo de Chile, but unfortunately they withdrew at the last minute and we had to continue alone and find transportation from Punta Arenas. It took us from January 9 to 26, two-and-a-half weeks, to get in from the coast to the foot of the ridge and establish a well stocked camp there. This was about six miles inland and 700 meters higher. We encountered difficult terrain resulting from the astounding glacial recession since the Italians had been there in 1956. A large new lake with steep walls barred the way along what had previously been a gentle glacial walk. Our ridge looked objectively safe with steep ice for 1700 meters to the top. We had roughly one good day in four with the rest of the time characterized by heavy rains and wind. Despite overcoming these difficulties, we reluctantly had to abandon the attempt, mainly due to a lack of time before our fishing vessel returned for us.

Caradoc Jones, Britain