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South America, Argentina and Chile, Central Patagonia, Argentina, San Lorenzo, Café Cortado

San Lorenzo, Café Cortado. The Up Project is a series of expeditions I conceived, in order to bring some strong climbers to remote locations around the globe. Our first trip was to Pakistan (see report elsewhere in this Journal). Our second trip, which had two parts, took us to Patagonia.

In the first part Italians Hervé Barmasse, Elia Andreola, Kurt Astner, Yuri Parimbelli, and I attempted to complete an unfinished line on the west face of Cerro Piergiorgio, which I climbed to within 200m of the ridge with Maurizio Giordani in 1995. After several attempts that involved placing a number of fixed ropes, we completed the first 11 pitches, but I was hit by rockfall and we retreated.

The second part of the Up Project Patagonia adventure took Italians Giovanni Ongaro and Matteo Bernasconi and Swiss Lorenzo Lanfranchi to Cerro San Lorenzo. It early March they met Barmasse, who was waiting in the town of Perito Moreno. They had intended to approach the mountain via the Rio Oro Valley, but since Mario Sar, the owner of a piece of land one needs to cross to reach it, demanded $1,200 per person, they changed plans and approached from the Chilean side instead [but climbed on the Argentine side; San Lorenzo is a border peak—Ed.]. They crossed the border and traveled to Cochrane.

It took two days hiking to reach base camp, which they established next to a small glacial lake at the base of the mountains northernmost flank. Barmasse, Bernasconi, Lanfranchi, and Ongaro originally intended to attempt the northeast face, but due to continuous precipitation its gullies and snow ramps were not in condition. They changed their objective to the massive couloir in the north face, which leads straight to the summit. Two weeks of continuous bad weather kept them in base camp, allowing only one outing, during which they dug a snow cave near the foot of the face.

On March 26, in spite of the bad weather, the foursome moved up to the snow cave, breaking trail through more than three feet of new snow, only to find no trace of the cave or the equipment they had left. Unable to find their shovel, they dug a new cave using their cook pot. On the morning of the 28th, although the sky was covered, the barometric pressure was high, so they made an attempt. They left the snow cave in the early hours and climbed two pitches of 80° ice to reach the gully itself, following the line climbed by Americans John Hauf, Timothy Rawson, and Tom Walter (see AAJ 1988, pp. 173-174). After 1,000m, where the Americans veered right toward the north ridge (from where they retreated along the De Agostini route without reaching the summit), Barmasse, Bernasconi, Lanfranchi, and Ongaro continued straight up toward the summit headwall. Here lies the crux of the climb: a short but difficult S-shaped gully that brought them to the summit mushroom. After 10 hours of climbing they reached the summit, having completed a line that they christened Café Cortado.

Luca Maspes, Sondrio, Italy