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South America, Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, Fortaleza, Solo Ascent

Fortaleza, Solo Ascent. I was on my way to the Fitz Roy area, trekking in the Torres del Paine. At the suggestion of some Chilean climbers who had done the route, I soloed the Original Route on the Forteleza. This route, on the west side above the Rio Frances Valley, was first done by a British team in the early 1960s. From my base at Campo Britanico I got a late start and found myself slogging up soft snow in the relentless gulley at the start of the route. The crux pitch above, the so-called “300-foot vertical ice shaft,” was about 50 meters long and laid-back Grade 3 ice. Above, rock and easy mixed climbing, some sections still fixed with rope, led to a long, circuitous scramble to the summit. Climbing time was about seven hours. The route is littered with remnants of the first ascent, which was inexplicably sieged.

A few days later Peter Appel of Sante Fe arrived at Campo Britanico with his wife Sarah Wood. The next day was perfect, so Peter and I headed to the popular Aleta de Tiburon (the Shark's Fin). We completed a route, perhaps new, on the northwest face. We simul-climbed most of the 5.8, 1500-foot face, then rappelled the same line and were back at camp before dark.

Charlie Fowler, unaffiliated