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South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia, Chile, West of Paine, Meseta de los Franceses, Various First Ascents

Meseta de los Franceses, various first ascents. In July, Pablo Besser, Ismael Mena, Nicolás von Graevenitz, and I made the first winter ascent of Cerro Balmaceda, at southern end of Continental Icecap [see below]. From the summit the Tyndall Glacier and surrounding mountains attracted our attention. Nicolás and I started planning an expedition to the seldom-visited Meseta de los Franceses, the glacier just west of Tyndall. The only recorded ascent in the area (by Gino Buscaini) was of Cerro Manzano, a 1,500m peak west of Tyndall. After difficulties fulfilling CONAF’s permit requirements, we camped near Cerro Manzano on our fifth day. Three days later, having given up the idea of visiting the northern part of the Meseta, due to a highly crevassed glacier, we camped at the base of the east ridge of an imposing peak, which like most peaks in the area is unnamed. The next day we made a reconnaissance of a tributary glacier that runs east-west, to the north of our camp. We were pleased to find that several beautiful peaks surrounded it. Finally we had something to climb! The weather kept us in the tent for two days, but on the third day we decided to climb, despite bad conditions, and ascended three small peaks: Piojo (1,601m, S51°07'696" W73°31'692", PD, 600m) and Ciego (1,595m, S51°07'640" W73°32'453", PD, 500m) and Cerro Dormido (1,717m, S51°07'766" W73°32'781", AD, 700m). The next day we climbed Cerro Desconsuelo (2,011m, S51°H'594" W73°29'057", PD+, 1,000m), which is at the southern end of the Meseta. The weather finally improved, and we attempted the prettiest peak in the entire area, the one whose ridge protected us from the wind. We started up at 8 a.m., climbing a long ice couloir leading to the icy north face. The first pitch was 50°, followed by another with steps to 85°, and a third that involved a traverse (70°) to avoid vertical ground above. The fourth was 80° and deposited us on the east ridge. The weather was perfect, no clouds or wind. To reach the corniced summit we climbed two more easy pitches. We named the peak Cerro Travesia (1,913m, S51°09'470" W73°31'342", MD, 700m 85°). The next day, though we were tired, we climbed one more peak, Cerro Kaweskar (1,580m, S51°08'221" W73°33'730", PD 500m), at the end of the Travesia Glacier (the glacier north of our camp), just above the fjords. After resting in bad weather for a few days we headed back. Having climbed six previously unclimbed summits, we were pleased with our adventure.

Francisco Urzúa, Santiago, Chile