American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chile, Southern Patagonia, South of Paine, Mt. Burney, Second Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Mt. Burney, second ascent. Mt. Burney (1,768m) is a volcano that stands near the northwest corner of the Muñoz Gamero penninsula, which is about 2,000 square miles in area. Though it is a familiar landmark seen from ships passing through Smyth and Union channels between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, very little is known about this mountain, beside Eric Shipton’s first ascent on March 10, 1973.

On March 6, 2003, after 2-1/2 days on the Pacific Ocean, the Pinguin dropped us off on a sandy beach in Puerto Munoz Gamero. The expedition included 15 students and 4 NOLS instructors, including myself, carrying 600kg of food, 100kg of equipment, and 70 liters of fuel.

During 18 days of consistently bad weather, incessant rain and snow, we worked to get in position and be ready. On March 21, late in the morning, stable good weather suddenly arrived. After 8-1/2 hours of tricky glacier travel and a short section of steep ice, we reached the summit. The semicircular summit ridge was crowned by a number of spectacular ice pinnacles formed on an agglomerate of the tuff and lava blocks of which the crater rim of Mt. Burney is composed. The descent at night, after five hours of traveling, took place under a clear sky, with beautiful stars everywhere.

After the second ascent of this remote and historic mountain in the Magallanes region, we traveled east toward the sea and accomplished another goal, traversing the Muñoz Gamero peninsula west to east, finishing at Caleta Suarez. We covered 63km mostly of turba (Magallanes swamps) in 27 days, before being picked up by the Pinguin and her captain Conrado Alvarez.

Our group consisted of American students Zachary Blaylock, Drew Collins, Matt Citadin, Lucy Donaghy, Jen Gray, Lindsay Long, Tobias McDougal, Alex McLawhorn, Conner Mulvee, Evan Olson, Christopher Robin, Will Thames, Louis Urvois, and Tom Wilson, Chilean student Fiorenza Marinkovic, and instructors Ignacio Grez and Christian Steidle (Chile), Kat Rudert (Canada), and Chris Manges (U.S.).

Christian Steidle, Chile

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