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South America, Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Mascara, East Face, Attempt, Cuerno Este and Cuerno Chico, New Routes

Mascara, East Face, Attempt, Cuerno Este and Cuerno Chico, New Routes. We were in Paine National Park from December 11-January 21. The aim of our stay with Robert Tanner (Germany) was to climb Cerro Mascara from the Bader Valley. The Welsh Camp, which is in perfect condition, was the chosen starting point. Depending on loads and snow conditions, it takes between two to four hours to hike to Mascara. Out of the 15 days that we hiked to thesmall nameless glacier near Mascara, we could only climb on six. Three hundred meters of rope were fixed in three climbing days to the col between Mascara and Cuemo Norte. We wanted to climb Duncan’s Dihedral (IV 5.11 Al), but the cracks were icy and the rock full of snow. Instead, we climbed six new pitches that we called Kurz vor Knapp (5.10 A2) before connecting with Duncan ’s Dihedral, but at about 200 meters below the summit, the boys were forced to turn back because of the bad conditions. (Anke had remained at the col.) On January 10, Robert had to leave to go back to Germany.

After a goodbye party for Robert in Puerto Natales, we returned to the Refugio los Cuemos (where the Rio del Valle Bader enters the Lago Nordenskjöld), the site of our new camp. The weather was incredibly good and we had three good days of climbing on the Cuemos. On January 14, we opened a new route on Cuerno Este which we named Condorito (6b+). It is a 300-meter line on the east face in very good granite; after two pitches of slabs, it follows a perfect crack system. The climb starts at the steeper part of the wall where the slabs drop down to Valle Bader (until recently referred to as the Valle Pingo; see AAJ 1999, pp. 330-332).

Three days later, on January 17, Cuerno Chico (a.k.a. Cuernito) awaited us. We started to the left of the yellow-reddish rock and continued after the third pitch in the steeper part to the right. Pluma del Condor (6b) is 300 meters long. Both routes end just before the black sedimentary rock starts.

Back from climbing, we waited another two days for good weather and then decided to leave the park. Since we had planned to climb in alpine style, we had just a minimum of climbing gear with us, and on January 19 we left in kayaks from the Refugio, crossed the Lago Nordenskjöld and got a ride to Natales from the Podeto. With kayaks, even coming to the Refugio was very simple because you can enter the Rio Paine near the Laguna Amarga and then paddle down the river and cross the lake, which takes about two hours.

Carsten von Birckhahn and Anke Clauss, Germany