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South America, Chile, Southern Patagonia, South of Paine, Cerro Ladrillero, First Ascent

Cerro Ladrillero, first ascent. Patagonia is a land that challenges you to be patient, where waiting for the window is key and, because of that, waiting becomes a skill that is useful for getting prepared for when the opportunity comes. This we did while waiting for a chance to climb Cerro Ladrillero, an unclimbed, magnificent, glacier-covered peak similar to Mt. Rainier (Jack Miller, AAJ 1977, p. 58).

At 51 degrees south latitude, in the Magellan region, south of the Skyring Sound, is the Isla Riesco. This beautiful peak is on Isla Riesco’s west side. It has been admired for many years, mostly from the ocean, but the common adverse weather and the reputation of swamps on the approach have kept climbers from the summit. After spending a month scouting a good route and approach, while persistent wind and snow made it impossible to attempt the peak, we decided to return.

This time we were a group from a NOLS Patagonia mountaineering course: students Jeff Worken, Andrew Ramsay, Taylor Kettler, Tristan Stetson, Simon Koster, Charlie Parker, Colin O’Brady, Paul Dante, Rick Rudolf, David Olson, Jeff Bulligton, Chip Hayes, David Ferreira, and Sam Tyler; and instructors Phillip Schneider, Galen Dossin, and I. We arrived on two big Zodiacs and got to shore on the far southwest side of the Riesco Island, in a little bay called Puerto Cascade on the map. We were left with a month of food, fuel, and equipment. On day 8 the weather showed signs of improvement, so that night we prepared to attempt the peak in a hard two-day push. The next day we made a high snow camp, 2km northwest of Peak 990m, 0.5 km east of the valley between Peaks 990m and 931m, and 5.5 km southeast of the summit of Ladrillero. The following day, November 10, was clear. We traveled west until reaching the start of the main south ridge of Cerro Ladrillero. From there we traveled up for around half km to a big, snow-glacier-covered plateau, from which we continued pretty much straight north to the summit. After eight hours of straightforward glacier travel, the entire group reached the summit of Cerro Ladrillero (1,722m), a classic rimed formation with a fantastic view. We were already in the company of strong winds. When we arrived back at camp, at 19:30, a new bad weather system had moved in, and the sky was getting dark fast, but we were happy with what we’d done in the two-day weather window. The rest of the month we explored satisfied with having climbed a significant new peak and running another course in an exploratory area.

Christian Steidle, Chile