American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina and Chile, Central Andes, Argentina, Pico Polaco, An Offer You Can't Refuse

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Pico Polaco, An Offer You Cant Refuse. On January 12, 2006, Scott Vanderplaats and I completed a new route on Pico Polaco (6,001m), in the central Argentine Andes. The route follows an obvious couloir up the northwest face, then summits via the north ridge. This face was previously unclimbed. The route begins at the lower snowfield and traverses up and left over loose mixed rock, followed by an excellent traverse into the main couloir. The couloir contains headwalls of excellent moderate ice and mixed pitches. We accessed the ridge by a chimney system in the upper headwall, passing through gigantic towers with beautiful icefalls on all sides. The ridge offers scary and exposed rock, with excellent views of the Argentine foothills to the east and the Chilean highlands and the Pacific Ocean to the west. We reached the north summit by a steep face of alpine ice for the last 50m, while the main summit was a 15-minute traverse to the south. We descended the normal south face route. We had believed our route would link up with the Austrian north ridge route of 2002. However, we found that there are two distinct ridges, separated by a large snowfield, on the north side of the mountain. Our route climbs the ridge visible from base camp, and thus climbs new terrain all the way to the summit. We named the route An Offer You Can’t Refuse, due to its aesthetic quality on a beautiful mountain. It took 43 hours to traverse the mountain (including an open bivy), bergschrund-to-bergschrund, with 1,000m of technical climbing (5.7 R/X M4- 70°).

Jarrett Tishmack, Ft. Collins, Colorado, AAC

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