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South America, Chile, Southern Patagonia, South of Paine, Cerro Balmaceda, West Face, Possible New Route

Cerro Balmaceda, west face, possible new route. In February 2002 Spaniards Iñaki San Vicente and Carlos Garcia de Cortazar made what appears to be the second, or perhaps third, ascent of this beautiful 2,035m peak, which lies at the northern end of Fiordo Ultima Esperanza. They approached the peak from the Torres del Paine National Park, using kayaks to descend 70km of the Rio Serrano to the fjord, which they crossed to its western end to reach Laguna Azul. They made their ascent via the west face, starting early in the morning from a bivy at around 700m, and reached the south summit eight hours later. The most difficult section involved a steep 80m face with ice up to 85°. The central summit appears to be a few meters lower than the south summit, but they were not able to reach it because a big crevasse barred passage along an otherwise straight-forward ridge. The first ascent of Balmaceda was done from the north by Argentines Meiling, Arnsek, and Botazzi, and Chilean Saavedra in 1957.

Rolando Garibotti, Club Andino Bariloche