Jaca Peak (3,372m), southeast face; Vinson West, Galfrío Route; Mt. Vinson (4,897m), Friendship Banana Gully to Branscomb ridge. On December 23 Chus (María Jesús) Lago and I attempted a new route on Vinson West face, but our backpacks were too heavy and our progress too slow. After climbing 600 meters, we decided to change our strategy. Chus Lago summited Vinson on her 40th birthday (Christmas), while I had to turn back due to the -30°C cold, accompanied by strong winds. On December 26, I moved to the southwest ridge of Mt. Shinn to explore a possible route there. Afterward I traversed to Jaca Peak (3,372m) and climbed it following a straight line up to the summit through the southeast face. Jaca Peak was first climbed in 1995 by a Spanish team, consisting of a group of the Military High Mountain patrol and the “Al Filo de lo Imposible” TV documentary team.
On December 27 Chus and I climbed together a new route on the southern edge of Vinson West’s rocky wall. It took us eight hours to climb 1,000 vertical meters on a rock spur. We named the new route “Galfrío” as a tribute to the expedition sponsor. The route includes some difficulties on ice and mixed terrain up to UIAA IV and 45° to 55° ice. The last 200 meters offered the most difficult section, as the climb progressed on very hard blue ice and unstable snow.
On December 28, I climbed the four-km-long Branscomb Ridge, past the point where it joins the new Galfrío route, up to the main summit of that ridge.
On December 31 I climbed a new route on Mt. Vinson following an unmistakable banana-shaped couloir that crosses Vinson’s west face. Therefore, I named the new itinerary “Friendship Banana Gully.” It took me 8.5 hours to climb 1,700 vertical meters from the foot of the wall to the Branscomb Ridge at 4,400m. The new route follows 50°-55° slopes on alternatively crusted and loose snow, along with some rock outcrops. There were some mixed sections up to IV. I found no ice at all, just some patches of hard snow.
Miguel Angel Vidal, Spain