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South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Season Overview

Season overview. The 2003-04 Patagonia season was one of marked contrasts, with much bad weather and heavy snowfall, but with one extended good weather period that lasted for an unprecedented nine days and sparked a flurry of activity (see individual reports below). During January the weather was uncharacteristically warm, creating dangerous conditions on the ice-capped Torre group, so most of the energy was focused on the drier Fitz Roy group. There were no ascents of Cerro Torre this season.

In early November the Supercanaleta route on Fitz Roy saw a couple of ascents, including one by a guided party. This was the first guided ascent of the route. Also on Fitz Roy, over a 10- day period in mid-November, Frenchmen Nicolas Fabbri, Jerome Huet, and Pierrick Keller climbed 700m of new terrain on the steep west-northwest pillar (immediately left of the Supercanaleta). They had hoped to climb the pillar all the way to the summit, but a tight schedule forced them to give up near where their line would join the French 1979 route. They used fixed ropes, which they left in place intending to return to complete their ascent. In all they climbed 22 pitches, with difficulties up to 6b and A2. In early February Italians Simone Pedeferri and Alberto Marazzi climbed a line parallel to and right of the Brenner-Moschioni route on the northeast pillar of Aguja Guillaumet. Their route includes six new pitches, with difficulties up to 6c/A0, before joining the Brenner-Moschioni, and is dubbed “Carlo.” Strong winds forced them to turn around before reaching the summit. Also noteworthy was the first all-female ascent of Fitz Roy on February 6 by Slovenes Monika Kambic and Tina Di Batista, via the Franco-Argentine route. On that day 12 people climbed the mountain, nine via the Franco-Argentine route.

There were also a number of accidents. Sometime in January a German climber was killed by falling ice while attempting Cerro Standhardt. Toward the end of the early February good-weather period, temperatures above normal led to accidents, including one in which two Argentines fell 200 feet when their anchors pulled while descending from Fitz Roy’s Franco-Argentine route. They suffered injuries that required the help of many climbers, as well as helicopter evacuation—a service usually not available since the closest helicopter is based 400 miles away. Another unfortunate event was a big fire caused by a careless smoker on the trail leading to Campo De Agostini; the fire burned many acres of native forest.

Rolando Garibotti, AAC, Club Andino Bariloche