American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Argentine Patagonia, Crossing of the Hielo Patagonico Sur, and Various Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Crossing of the Hielo Patagonico Sur, and Various Ascents. I was invited to go with the Arved Fuchs expedition to try to cross the entire Hielo Patagonico Sur (HPS). Arved started from Canada in his sailboat, the Dagmar Aaen. He reached Valparaso on September 15, at which point I joined the crew, which consisted of one American, Roger Smith, seven Germans, one woman, Sigga Ragna Sverrisdotir from Iceland, and one Chilean. On October 1 we began sailing south and reached the Jorge Montt glacier, where the HPS really starts. Arved, Till Gothbrat, and Roger Smith started south with food for 40 days, skis, sledges (pulkas), and parawings. Our work was to sail fast to the south to the Peel fjord, but along the way we had a few problems: one man had dysentery, and we needed to go fast to Eden Harbor for help, and after that we had a motor problem, but repaired the water pump and continued. Finally we reached the Peel. Sigga Ragna, who is a very good sailor and ice climber, and I crossed 30 sea miles in a Zodiac to the end of the Peel, made a base camp, and continued alone, pioneering a new steep glacial approach to the Ice Cap plateau, which we called “Margarita Glacier.” We climbed this in three trips. Finally we reached the Japan Plateau, and then went east for two days near the Malaspina Mountains and made our first camp close to the Co. Centinela. Later, we made the first ascent of “Mount Dagmar Aaen” (2200 m), a soft snow and ice climb that had for its top 50 meters an ice climb with a good Patagonian mushroom summit. Bad weather came with a three-day storm. We maintained radio connection every day with Arved’s group and the ship. During this time we climbed, in bad conditions, Co. Centinela (2393 m). We then moved to Camp II, at the base of the Co. Inmaculado, where we climbed many peaks, including the first ascents of what we called Co. Mirador del Hielo (2078 m), Punta Aparicion (2100 m), Punta Illusion (2533 m) and the great Co. Inmaculado (2374 m).

On November 20, Arved reached our camp after a 30-day trip, but a big storm pinned us for 10 days, breaking our small tent and forcing the five of us to go inside Arved’s three-man tent. We waited, dividing the food into very small rations. The radio didn't work. After six days without radio contact, the group on the ship was very worried. When the sky changed a little we started to cross the “Mayo Fall,” 900 meters of serac fall where the HPS is divided in two. It had never been crossed other than by helicopter. In four days we crossed it, and on December 3 we reached the Peel fjord again after 40-45 days on the ice and many experiences and adventures. Co. Cuatro Vientos had been climbed by Gothbrat, Schmidt, Sigga, and Besser, we had crossed for the first time the Margarita Glacier, the Garcia Glacier, and the Col 1300 (Corredor Chileno), and the Arved crossing of the HPS was the biggest north-south crossing without external caches, helicopter help, or half-way stops for rest or external supplies.

Pablo Besser J., Club Alemàn Andino

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