American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chilean Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Grupo la Paz, Various Activity, Previously Unreported

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Grupo la Paz, Various Activity, Previously Unreported. We met up with Andy McAuley and Vicky O’Malley in December, 1997, in Puerto Natales. Our plan was to make a first ascent on a mountain from the Grupo la Paz (a.k.a. Torres del Diablo). We waited a day until a fisherman could take us the 50 sea miles with him. He passed the Canal Kierke and took the next channel to the right, dropping us off in the Canal Santa Maria. The peninsula between the Canal Santa Maria and the Canal de las Montanas is called Peninsula Roca or Cordillera Riesco. The kayaks made us independent and helped us to discover untouched virgin climbing from the fjords and the shores. After two days of seeking a sheltered base camp, we were lucky to find an overhanging rock with enough room for two tents and a kitchen-place all in a row. The main problem in this region is the ever-pouring rain and the soaked ground— extreme conditions for clothing and man’s motivation.

Carsten and Andy found a way over the two passes to the easternmost of the Grupo la Paz. After we transported all the material to the bottom of the mountain, the waiting period started. We made one try to climb up, getting to the snow field, but the weather was not stable, so we had to return. While waiting for the day without rain, we paddled in the fjords, went fishing, crossed heaps of rivers and enjoyed being alone with nature.

Punctual with the full moon (in accordance with the Indians’ belief), the weather changedand we had two days of sun. On January 12, Carsten and Andy climbed the 900-meter east face of the easternmost Grupo la Paz in seven hours. The rock quality is poor compared to the typical Patagonian granite. It seems to be a young granite with a lot of loose rock. Nevertheless, the south faces have quite a lot of demanding climbing possibilities. The established route has 14 pitches and is called Cuando Cambia la Luna (V 6a). The following day, Carsten, Anke and Vicky went to the summit of a mountain east of the Grupo La Paz via the southeast face. The route follows a ca. 50-degree ice field in the lower part. In the upper part, the rock climbing is quite easy (fourth class).

Carsten von Birckhahn and Anke Clauss, Germany

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