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South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Aguja Rafael, Quilombo

Aguja Rafael, Quilombo. When Zack Smith and I arrived at the Chalten Massif in Argentine Patagonia, the weather had been bad for over two months, with no sign of improvement. We established our high camp within a week, and amazingly the weather began to improve. We set out at the first sign of a break in the weather, even if it did not look perfect. Stratus and lots of high clouds loomed all day. We chose Aguja Rafael, a smaller objective, thinking that perhaps we could get up something. On January 30 we climbed a new route, via a beautiful, intimidating-looking crack line that cuts straight up the right side of the west face. The route turned out to be quite sustained, with four pitches of 5.11 and a few points of aid on two pitches; one of 5.10; and three of 5.9. After these eight pitches the route joins an existing line for four more pitches to the summit. The route consisted of a variety of climbing—crack, slab, face, a bit of aid—and we christened it “Quilombo,” Argentine slang meaning “total mess.” We chose this name because we got to the top in horrible-looking weather, and my hand got tweaked somewhere along the way, laying me up for the remainder of our trip.

Heidi Wirtz, AAC