South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia, Argentina, Chalten Massif, Patagonia Summary

Publication Year: 2006.

Patagonia summary. [Note: this summary supplements the individual route reports below— Ed.] Unlike the past few years, this season did not offer an extended good weather period in late January and February, which climbers had come to expect and rely upon. There have been no major changes in the National Parks Service policy regarding climbing permits, which are still free. A definitive review of the measure enacted in late 2004, which established permit fees, is still pending. This season was characterized by several important repeat ascents, particularly on Cerro Fitz Roy, where during February five of its longest climbs were repeated. These included the second complete ascent of Ensueño on the west face, climbed in two days by Slovenes Rok Blagus, Tomaz Jakofcic, and Miha Valic; the fourth ascent of the Slovak Route on the southwest face, climbed by Slovenes Boris Lorencic and Urban Azman; the second ascent of the French route on the northwest pillar, climbed over two days by Argentine Gabriel Otero and Brazilians Edemilson Padilha and Valdesir Machado; the first free ascent and first one-day ascent of the Casarotto route (Kearney-Knight variation), by Americans Bean Bowers and Josh Wharton in 15 hours bergschrund-to-summit (24 hours roundtrip from Paso Superior), at about 5.11+; and the first female ascent of the same route, by 23 year-old American Crystal Davis-Robbins, with Canadian Jon Walsh in a 27-hour push, bergschrund-to-summit. Davis-Robbins’ ascent is particularly significant because, unlike some “first female ascents,” she shared equally the leading duties. Just three days later American Helen Motter, also swinging leads, climbed the Franco-Argentine route with Bowers (his second Fitz Roy ascent in 72 hours), completing the third or fourth female ascent of the route. Elsewhere on Fitz Roy, veteran American Jim Donini, who first visited the Chalten massif in 1974, attempted a new route on the west flank of the Goretta (north) Pillar with Tom Englebock. They climbed 14 pitches before retreating in deteriorating weather. They intend to return next year to complete it. Elsewhere in the massif, Americans Sean Leary and Bean Bowers did a nine-hour, no-falls ascent of the Red Pillar (550m, 5.12b) route on Mermoz, with both climbers climbing all pitches.

Cerro Torre continues to be climbed almost exclusively by the Compressor Route, but ironically this year the long-disputed first ascent route was both disproved and climbed, and the true first ascent route, the Ragni di Lecco west face route, was repeated. In early December a Franco-Argentine team led by Bruno Sourzac and including Ramiro Calvo, Walter Rossini, Max O’Dell, and Gabriel and Luciano Fiorenza completed the fifth ascent to the summit of this route (previous ascents to the summit: Chiappa-Conti-Ferrari-Negri, 1974, now known to be the true first ascent of Cerro Torre; Bragg-Carman-Wilson, 1977; Bearzi-Winkelmann, 1986, Elias-Merino, 1997).

Rolando Garibotti, Club Andino Bariloche, AAC

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