American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Argentine Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Aguja Mermoz, Northwest Crest

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

Aguja Mermoz, northwest crest. On October 21 Vasja Kouta, David Pehnec, and I arrive at base camp, Piedra del Fraile. The weather is bad. First we attempt Supercanaleta on Fitz Roy but turn back a few pitches above the block. Later, conditions on that route are still not good, and we change the plan. The weather is Patagonian.

On November 9 the weather becomes good. We are a little late, but we leave Piedra del Fraile anyway. At midday we are at the base of the northwest crest of the Mermoz. The first few pitches are in a great crack. After that we arrive at a snow gully, which leads to the top of the first tower. In the evening the weather becomes worse, so we fix a rope on the left side of the slope and descend to base camp. For the next few days the weather is still bad.

We have had enough waiting, and early in the morning on November 13, despite strange weather, we leave base camp. It is quite cold with a little snow and the wind is getting stronger. After just a few pitches in icy cracks, ending at the top of the next tower, we descend to base camp again. In the next 10 days the weather is befitting to Patagonia, with a lot of precipitation. We even have snow in base camp. Our expedition is coming to an end, and we have just a few days.

We try again on November 23. Today we are only Vasja and me. David has leg problems.

Because of the recent snow, cracks are snowy and icy, and we move slowly. In the afternoon it becomes colder. We reach the summit ridge by nightfall. The wind is getting stronger, so we retreat from that point. We rappel almost all night. Early in the morning we are in base camp. (Editors note: This summit ridge has several blank gendarmes and might not be climbable without heavy drilling.) The Northwest Crest of Mermoz is over 1,000 meters high, and we graded it VI+ AO V-IV 70-degree snow/ice.

Zlatko Koren, Slovenia

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