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South America, Hielo Continental, Patagonian Icecap, North to South Unsupported Traverse

Patagonian Icecap, north to south unsupported traverse. Between late August and early October 2003 Swiss Thomas Ulrich and Norwegian Borge Ousland traversed, unsupported, the bulk of the Southern Patagonian Icecap. Ousland is well known for being the first man to accomplish an unsupported solo crossing from Siberia to Canada via the North Pole. Ulrich is a devoted Patagonian climber, responsible, among other things, for the first winter ascent of the west face of Cerro Torre. The pair started from the Chilean town of Caleta Tortel, paddling floating sleds for two days to the Jorge Montt glacier. After ferrying loads for a week and a half, they reached the icecap plateau, along which they headed south, using skis, pulling kayak/sleds, and at times benefiting from the use of kites. After crossing the notoriously difficult and dangerous Reichert Fault, they exited the icecap via the Tyndall Glacier, south and west of the Paine Massif, paddling down the Rio Serrano to reach the Ultima Esperanza fjord and Puerto Natales, having covered 460km in merely 54 days. Theirs is by far the most important unsupported traverse of Hielo Continental yet done. A detailed article describing this adventure will be published in the August 2004 National Geographic. A number of north-to-south traverses of the Patagonian Icecap have been done. In 1992 a Spanish-Argentine team entered via Glaciar Jorge Montt and exited via Valle Pingo to Lago Grey, but used a helicopter to surmount the Reichert Fault. Between November 1, 1998, and January 30, 1999, four Chileans, Pablo Besser, Rodrigo Fica, Mauricio Rojas, and Jose Montt, completed a traverse, entering via Glaciar Jorge Montt and exiting the network of glaciers south of Glaciar Balmaceda to the Seno Ultima Esperanza, 25km south of the Tyndall Glacier. The Chileans relied on a cache of food and equipment in the vicinity of the Reichert Fault, and did not paddle to and from the glaciers, relying instead on motorboats.

Rolando Garibotti, AAC, Club Andino Bariloche