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Hornopiren National Park, Exploratory Mountaineering

In January 2000, I led an exploratory mountaineering expedition to climb a group of unnamed, unvisited peaks located within the boundaries of Chile’s Hornopiren National Park (latitude 42° S; topo map H-73: Rio Traidor). The peaks surround an extensive glacier area in the northeast quadrant of the Park, ten kilometers southeast of Lago Pinto Concha. The team of five North Americans included Randy Earlywine, Daniel Collins, Susan Detweiler, Rich Henke and myself. We spent 25 days in the area and made the first known ascents of several peaks and numerous minor summits ranging in elevation from 1859 to 2342 meters. The long complicated approach, thick temperate rain forest, and, more than anything, stormy weather have discouraged most andinistas from exploring this area.

We approached the peaks from the east by small boat via Lake Tagua Tagua and the Rio Puelo and then on foot with pack horses up the Rio Traidor Valley. Fortunately, we had good weather early in the trip while we were scouting out the approach and climbing routes. Once above timberline, all climbs had glacier approaches with rock scrambles or climbs to the summits. The rock was granitic (decent to good quality), though sometimes capped with a schisty metamorphic rock (friable). Provisional names and elevations of the peaks we climbed are as follows: Peak 2186, Cuernos de Pirén (Horns of Snow); Peak 2080, Banded Peak (striped geology); Peak 2033, Cerro Improbable (Improbable Peak); Peak 2342, Morning Star Peak; Peak 1890, Vizcacha Peak; Peak 1859, Florentina Peak.

After a delightful climb of Morning Star Peak, the highest in the park, we got hammered by a three-day storm that, at its peak, kept us in the tents for 36 hours straight. Note: not all summits are clearly marked on the topo map due to 50-meter contour intervals. If you are interested in a more detailed summary of the expedition, please contact me directly: gperless@gmail.com.

Gary Perless, Washington Alpine Club