South America, Chile, Northern Patagonia, San Lorenzo, First Winter Ascent

Publication Year: 2005.

San Lorenzo, first winter ascent. In July Chilean andinistas Pablo Besser, Camilo Rada, and Manuel Bugueño completed the first winter ascent, by the Agostini Route, of Monte San Lorenzo (3,706m), Patagonia’s second-highest summit, in Chile’s XI Region. The team established a base camp at the Tony Rorhen Hut (next to the old Agostini Hut), after pulling heavy loads on snow sleds through the native alerce woods for six days. They then established an advanced camp in Brecha de La Cornisa at 2,400m. They intended to establish an advanced camp before the summit push, but the continuing good weather prompted them to go for the top from La Cornisa, alpine style.

The next morning, after several hours of hiking in fresh snow, expedition member Marcelo Camus had to turn back due to a knee injury. Pablo, Camilo, and Manuel continued, passing an exposed serac barrier en route to the north summit ridge. To reach the main summit they had to surmount the north summit and descend to a snowfield before climbing up again. Alas, they encountered the huge summit ice mushroom as darkness fell. Encouraged by good weather, they descended to the snowfield below the summit and bivouacked in a snow cave. Temperatures dropped as low as -30° C during the night. The next morning they went back up, climbed the mushroom, and finally gained the summit on July 16 at 1:30 p.m. It was Pablo Besser’s third attempt to climb San Lorenzo; with this ascent Camilo Rada has ticked Patagonia’s two highest summits in winter (the highest being Monte San Valentín, 4,058m).

Reported by Pablo Besser to Jose Ignacio Morales for Escalando Adapted from Alpinist magazine,