American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Tierra del Fuego, Monte Sarmiento, Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Monte Sarmiento, Attempt. Nelson Bareta and Nativo Fransen of Brazil, and Eduardo Lopez, Mariano Sebesta, and Walter Rossini of Argentina departed December 14 from Puerto Bahía Mansa with the goal of repeating the 1995 route on Monte Sarmiento. During their 29 days waiting for an opportunity to climb, they saw the mountain twice. They made their first cache at approximately 600 meters in heavy rains. Three days later they made their second carry in the rain. On the 11th day, they saw the west summit for the first time for some two hours. On the 14th day, the rain stopped for some eight to ten hours. In the hopes of good weather, they climbed to Camp I the next day and slept there for the first time. They were able to see the east summit for one hour and the west summit for two hours. On the 16th day, it began to rain again. They remained in Camp I. On the 17th day at noon they went down to Base Camp, taking advantage of a break in the weather to reprovision Camp I. When they went down, the mountain cleared and for the first time they saw it in all its grandeur. This lasted two hours. On the 22nd day, they climbed to Camp I again. The next day they climbed up in bad weather and reached 1000-1100 meters, but a snow storm left them without visibility and forced them to go down. On the 26th night, they saw clear skies for the first time. When they woke at 2 a.m., however, the mountain was not visibile. It was their last day before they would have to catch their boat. Until this moment, it had been raining every day. Unexpectedly, the mountain cleared at 7 a.m., and the team began up. They found the 1995 route very changed, which forced them to try a new route on the west face. Conscious of the avalanche danger and the late hour, they nonetheless continued. Once above 1000-1100 meters, they crossed the west ridge and continued climbing with the hope of reaching the 1995 route. Two-thirds of the way up the mountain, in strong winds, they observed that avalanches had already fallen from the east summit toward the Lovisato Glacier. They decided to go down. Once in Camp I, as they prepared for the descent, they heard a considerable avalanche above the west face, followed by a dozen more avalanches.

The team carried out ten bags of garbage that they collected from the beach. They wondered how so much garbage could be found in such a remote place. The expedition members believe it is possible to reach the south ridge of the peak by the Mauri-Mafei route. Regarding the west summit, there don’t seem to be too many options between the 1995 route and the west face, both being very prone to avalanches.

Facundo José, Club Andino Bariloche

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