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South America, Argentina, Argentine Patagonia, Aguja Poincenot, Whillans Route

Aguja Poincenot, Whillans Route. On March 1, 1997, Tom Douglas, Todd Hoffman, Gabe Schlumberger and I climbed the Whillans route on Poincenot. We left our snow cave at the Paso Superior at 4 a.m., and were at the base of the climb by around 7 a.m., having spent an hour crossing the bergschrund at the bottom of the east face. We climbed seven pitches of snow, ice, and easy mixed terrain (at about 70° for the first pitch, then 50°-60° for the remaining pitches), and reached the beginning of the rock at about 10 a.m. The weather remained beautiful, sunny and clear, with temperatures around 50°F, for the entire day. We reached the summit at 8 p.m. after ten pitches of rock, mostly 5.6/5.7 but with a few pitches of 5.9/5.10, and immediately began our rappel. Since the route traverses substantially from east to west, we had trouble reaching a number of the rappel anchors, and decided to bivy at 3 a.m. near the top of the ice section. We woke at 7 a.m. on March 2 in total white-out conditions, with 70 m.p.h. gusts and temperatures around 20°F, and began our rappel again. The weather began to clear and we finished our rappel at noon and reached our snow cave at 3 p.m., thirty-five hours after having left.

Hank Midgely