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South America, Argentina and Chile, Central Andes, Chile, Cerro Marmolejo, Senda Real and the Nook

Cerro Marmolejo, Senda Real and The Nook. Austrians Harald Berger and Albert Leichtfried established a wild ice route on the south face of Cerro Marmolejo (6,100m, about 20 km from Baños Morales) in the Cajón del Maipo in January 2006. Their line, Senda Real, climbs six difficult pitches of glacial ice with enormous roofs and pillars (WI5, 6-, 7-, 7+, 5, 6-), at over 4,500m, before continuing up lower-angle slopes to the summit. After onsighting the first three pitches, they used redpoint tactics on the crux pitch, including preplaced screws and hook placements in the ice of a 20' roof. For photos and information, see www.escalando.cl/marmolejo.htm

In February 2002 Canadians Ben Firth and Eamonn Walsh established what was probably the first steep ice line on Marmolejo. Their route, The Nook, climbs five pitches on the southwest face, starting with climbing up to WI4 to reach a prominent scree ledge. From the ledge they took the rightmost of three independent lines. A 60m WI6/6+ pillar, reminiscent of the famous Canadian route French Maid, followed by a 30m WI5 pitch, led to a plateau, which they crossed, then continued to the summit. Although warm temperatures limited their options, they saw many promising-looking lines for colder months.

Cerro Marmolejo’s West Ridge apparently sees some traffic as a mountaineering objective. Firth and Walsh note seeing several bivy sites and cairns as they descended that route, and also encountered another party coming up the ridge.