AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia, Chile, South of Paine, Cerro Balmaceda, First Winter Ascent

Cerro Balmaceda, first winter ascent. Cerro Balmaceda (2,260m) is located at the southern end of the Continental Icecap, some 40km south of the Paine Massif. Being surrounded by lakes and major rivers, it is difficult to reach. Since its first ascent in 1957, it has had only three other ascents. On July 11 Ismael Mena, Francisco Urzúa, Nicolás von Graevenitz, and I, all Chilean, traveled by Zodiac boat for three hours from Puerto Natales and were dropped off at the Laguna Azul beach, south of the mountain. We spent the following two weeks contouring the mountain and Lago Balmaceda (frozen in winter) to the west, finally reaching Gallina Pass, located high on the mountain along the first ascent route, on the 24th. The next day, after six hours of nontechnical but somewhat treacherous glacier travel, we reached the main summit. It took us only three days to return to Puerto Natales. Faster and shorter access to the mountain would be from the east, via Puerto Toro, but we strongly recommend the western approach. Due to its remoteness, it is one of the most pristine areas in Patagonia.

Dr. Pablo Besser Jirkal, Club Aleman Andino, Santiago, Chile