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South America, Tierra del Fuego, Argentine Patagonia, Cerro Fitz Roy, West Face, Ensueño

Cerro Fitz Roy, West Face, Ensueño. Silvo Karo (Slovenia) and I arrived in Chaltén in the very last days of January with the obvious intention of doing some climbing, but also hoping for a lot of bad weather so we could enjoy the peaceful and calm life that the Patagonian forest provides. After a short excursion to the base of Cerro Pier Giorgio, we turned our sights to the west side of Cerro Fitz Roy. We did not have to wait long before the weather gave us an opportunity to use all the equipment we had brought with us. At 6 a.m. on February 11, we crossed Supercanaleta’s bergschrund and immediately took a right turn onto the golden rock of Ensueño, first climbed by Andrea Sarchi, Mauro Giradi and Lorenzo Nadali (I) in 1995 over a five-day good-weather period (see AAJ 1996, pp. 11-18). We climbed in blocks and did some simul-climbing as well. By 4 p.m. we had free climbed all 37 pitches of this route, with the leader redpointing all pitches. The first ascent party had graded this route at 5.12 A1, but we thought a 5.11c rating was more accurate. We found the rock to be not as solid as expected in sections, and the climbing to be at times difficult, with long runouts and very tricky gear. The last few pitches were climbed in snowy and windy conditions. Upon reaching the Supercanaleta on its very last section around 4 p.m., we continued for a couple more pitches, but upon arriving at the Gendarme Ridge some four to five pitches from the easy ground leading to the summit near where the American route joins the route, we were forced to retreat due to the rain/snow and strong winds. We were somewhat disappointed not to have reached the summit, but after many hours of rappelling in cold and wet conditions we were both quite sure that we had made the right decision. We were back in our camp in the Sitting Man Ridge by 1 a.m., in time for yet another big pot full of polenta. During the remaining two weeks we stayed in the area, the weather was never good enough for climbing, but we had a great time walking, reading, eating and hanging out with many good friends from Chaltén.

Rolando Garibotti, Club Andino Bariloche, Argentina