American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chile, Northern Patagonia, Lake District, Cochamo, Cerro Trinidad and Neighboring Peaks

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2002

Cochamo, Cerro Trinidad and neighboring peaks. (Editor’s note: In the 2001 AAJ, p. 300, Ian Parnell gives a summary of a traverse of many ridges in the Cochamo area by Lucy Regan, Brian Bigger, and James Marshall. More information on the traverse is presented here.) In January, after attempting to complete the right side of the central pillar of the north face of Trinidad (we tried in April 2000 but retreated from pitch 9), we decided to concentrate on an alpine traverse of the Trinidad horseshoe. Skirting the base of Cerro Trinidad, we scrambled up the loose descent gully on the mountain’s north side. With much cursing James led the HVS pitch of Stirling Moss in very cold conditions to breach the difficulties on the east face of Trinidad. Meanwhile I climbed the northern subsidiary peak (unnamed, 1479m, almost certainly climbed) and returned to second Stirling Moss. With inquisitive attention from a condor, we scrambled to the summit of Cerro Trinidad (1720m). The summit domes of Trinidad and its neighboring peaks are relatively flat but are separated by deep gullies, requiring abseils onto knife-edge ridges, then easy but exposed climbing and scrambling up the other side. Heading south along the crest, we climbed two peaks (1703m and 1717m) in this manner. They had probably not been climbed, and we named them Cerro Concepcion Torre Norte and Cerro Concepcion Torre Sur. We then reached the unclimbed final southeastern peak of the horseshoe near the col at its center, and here we bivouacked.

In the morning we scrambled easily to the southeastern summit (1678m), which we named Cerro Romané, before descending its west ridge and reaching the southern col (1390m) by about midday. Views south revealed an apparently untouched and hidden valley with great potential for big wall and alpine routes. To the southwest an incredible curtainlike wall of rock links the southwesternmost peak of the Trinidad horseshoe to an unclimbed and snowbound peak (1897m) and eventually to Cerro Torrecillas (1809m) and Cerro Estraido (2098m), both unclimbed.

At about 2:00 p.m. the team crossed the col and started up the first mountain on the west side of the horseshoe. After crossing deep banks of snow, which contained fresh puma tracks, we encountered a 15-meter step. An excellent VS pitch up the rightmost arête of the buttress provided the solution, with great exposure from the deep gully below. Lucy returned to the col feeling ill, leaving James and me to continue the traverse. Easy scrambling led to a second step, giving a corner pitch of Severe, before we broke right up a lieback crack and through a short overhang at about HVS and HS. It was a short distance to the first summit (unclimbed, 1747m), which we named Cerro Alerce. We then traversed to the remaining subsidiary summit, Cerro Laguna (1708m). A cairn was discovered, which we later learned marked the first ascent of this peak, by its slabby northeast face. The final northern peak in the horseshoe, Pedro de Gorila (1761m, previously climbed by the northern wall) was protected by a south-facing wet, overhanging 80-meter wall. Aid climbing was not feasible with our lightweight rack. We retraced our route, descended to the col by about 7:00 p.m., and slept there. In the morning the team descended north into the valley and followed the river, with some entertaining wading and jumping.

Brian Bigger, United Kingdom

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