Argentine Patagonia, Various Activity. In late 1996, Italians P. Cavagnetto, R. Giovanetto, M. Motto, G. Predan and C. Ravaschietto attempted to climb Punta Filip (the northwest gendarme of Aguja Bifida) from the western flank, but they retreated some 20 meters short of the summit at the top of a significant foresummit, because they considered that climbing the gendarme of the summit itself would require extensive bolting. They named their route Su Patagonia.
On November 22, Silvo Karo (Slovenia) and Rolando Garibotti (Argentina) completed the first ascent after climbing a new route on the east face. They climbed a line that involves five mixed pitches on the lower part and seven rock pitches on the upper pillar. They followed a series of ramps and dihedrals leading to the col between Punta Filip and the southernmost tower of the Triologia Inca. They managed to overcome the summit pinnacle by lowering 25 meters on the north side of the pinnacle from the col on its eastern side, and climbing a very exposed slab (no bolts).
They named the route Amigos Perdidos in honor of Aischan Rupp and Janez Jeglic, two close friends tragically lost in the mountains, and also as a humorous reference to the fact that they lost two Friends on the route. They christened the tower Punta Filip to honor Janez Jeglic’s son, who was born a few months after the disappearance of his father on Nuptse in late October, 1997.
On the east face of Punta Herron, the obvious ice/snow runnel and chimney leading to the “Col dei Sogni” was attempted by Ermanno Salvaterra (Italy) and José “Pepe” Chaverri (Spain) in early 1994. They attacked just left of Motivaciones Mixtas but were forced to retreat after 300 meters when Chaverri was injured by falling debris.
On November 28, 1999, Karo and Garibotti completed this line. After the first few easy pitches they were faced with the difficult first pitch of the obvious left-leaning line, which involved some tricky aid climbing, after which a long difficult chimney/ice/rock system leads to the easier middle section. The climbing proved to be a bit harder than expected, and it required 15 hours to reach the Col dei Sogni. Their original intention was to continue on from the col along the route Spigolo dei Bimbi (Salvaterra-Cavallaro-Vidi, 1991). In the morning they found this route impractical due to large quantities of verglas covering the rock and therefore decided to retreat. They called the 23-pitch line Tobogan (ED-85° 5+ A2, 900m), a direct reference to the fact that this line leads to the Spigolo dei Bimbi (“Pillar of the Children”).
On December 5-6, 1999, Karo and Garibotti managed to climb alpine style the Slovak* Route on the southwest face of Cerro Fitz Roy starting from the Torre Glacier. The Slovak Route was first climbed in January of 1983 by Slovaks Michal Orolín, Vladimír Petrík and Robert Gálfy. The Slovak climbers had attempted the route one season earlier starting from the Torre Glacier but were not successful. They eventually completed the ascent by climbing from the Hombre Sentado Ridge, thus avoiding the lower 800 meters of the face. They climbed with extensive use of fixed ropes, which were placed to where their route joins the 1968 Californian Route 400 meters from the summit. The whole face starting from the Torre Glacier had been attempted on many occasions.
Karo and Garibotti started from the Polish Camp in the Torre Glacier at 4:15 a.m. and were at the base of the 2300-meter face some 45 minutes later. The lower 800 meters involved easy snow ramps and some tricky mixed climbing, half of which required roped climbing. The base of the prominent dihedral one-third of the way up was reached at 10 a.m. This involved some of the hardest climbing on the route, which proved to be fairly dangerous due to loose rock. By 6 p.m., Garibotti and Karo had joined the Californian Route, where they had some difficulties finding the proper line of ascent (due to fatigue?). Just before 10 p.m., they gained the ridge of the Supercanaleta, where they decided to bivy. They had intended to climb the route in one push and did not carry any bivy equipment or stove. After a cold night out, the morning of December 6 saw them negotiating the gendarme ridge, and eventually they reached the summit a little after 11 a.m.
After the de rigueur photos and other summit affairs, they descended the Franco-Argentinian Route and continued on to Rio Blanco. As they did not have any bivy gear and had not had any food for most of that day, they decided to continue to the “De Agostini” Camp, where they had their base camp. This three-hour hike involved some of the most exciting moments of the whole ascent: halfway there, they were surprised by a wandering puma (mountain lion). The rest of the hike produced some sore necks, as they kept looking over their shoulders in fear of another unwanted guest. At 2 a.m. they arrived at Campo de Agostini, where they collapsed into the depths of a big pot of spaghetti before eventually crawling out of it and into their sleeping bags.
They were full of praise for the fine effort of the Slovak climbers in 1983, who, considering the objective dangers, were very brave to undertake fixing ropes on such a long line. Although the vertical gain is 2300 meters if one starts from the Cerro Torre Valley, the first 1000 meters is actually easy terrain and should be considered part of the approach. There are a few sections of bad rock, but overall the climbing is very easy, rarely more difficult than 5+. They considered the route to be ED-6b/A0 65°, 2300 meters. With the exception of four pitches that were jumared by the second, both climbers climbed the entire way.
Rolando Garibotti, Club Andino Bariloche
*Though this route, a.k.a. the Czech Route, was established when Czechoslovakia was still an integral country, the first ascen-sionists were of Slovak ethnicity. Garibotti suggests it is more appropriate to refer to the route as the Slovak Route. Barring that, it should accurately be known as the Czechoslovakian Route.