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South America, Chile, Southern Patagonia, Bader Valley, La Mascara, Illusiones, New Route

La Mascara, Ilusiones, New Route. Eva Martos, Diego Pelaez, and I got to Torres del Paine National Park on January 8. We arrived later than expected, so we lost some time trying to get the permits. We had to leave our climbing gear at the entrance of the park (so that the CONAF was sure that we were not going to climb without the permits) and start carrying the food, clothes, etc., to establish base camp. On the other hand, the very expensive horses (U.S.$70 per horse) climbed almost up to Welsh Camp in the Bader Valley, which was a nice surprise. Welsh Camp was three and a half hours from the base of La Mascara, so we also installed an advanced base camp next to the wall. We fixed 200 meters of rope and left the ground in capsule style with food and water for about 14 days. The next day we were stuck in the first camp for two days in bad weather. We had one double portaledge and one single, but the first night the one who was sleeping alone was blown up by the wind, so we all slept in the double portaledge, which we tied on the bottom (but we were still moved by the wind!). We could climb almost every day, even if just for a few hours. But just before moving the camp, a big stone fell into the portaledge, making a large hole in the tent and the portaledge itself. Fortunately, it didn’t hit anybody. We almost decided to go down, repair the damage and come back in a few days, but finally we decided to keep on climbing, as the weather was improving.

The next camp (II) was much better protected from wind. We summited on January 30 on a very calm day (no wind at all on the ridge!), after four final pitches of fairly easy ridge. We named the 17-pitch, 700-meter route Ilusiones. It is mainly aid climbing with difficulties up to A3+ and some 6b moves. We freed just two or three pitches, but in good conditions, more pitches could be freed. The route is steep and has excellent rock in its first part and the final headwall, and has two pitches in its middle with some loose rock. We put two bolts at every belay except the first, which has no gear in it (we started hauling from the second belay). We didn’t need to place any bolts between belays.

The route climbs the first 30 meters of Magic Carpet Ride, branching left before reaching its first belay. We descended January 31 in bad weather. We met a French, Welsh, and Italian party and they all opened new routes on this wall. Bader Valley is not as unknown as it used to be, but we think that there are still possibilities for opening new routes on La Hoja and La Espada.

Eduardo Alonso, Spain

Editor’s note: it was later reported that the Italian party was attempting the “finger” formation right of La Mascara in February and March, reaching a high point 150 meters below the finger’s summit. Further details are lacking.