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South America, Argentina, Northern Andes, Mt. Pissis, Southwest Face and First Winter Ascent; Cerro Veladero, West Route and First Winter Ascent

Mt. Pissis, Southwest Face and first winter ascent; Cerro Veladero, West Route and first winter ascent.

On September 16 Guillermo Glass, Rolando Linzing, and I reached the summit of Mt. Pissis (6,882m), the second highest mountain in the Andes, for the first time in winter. We also filmed a documentary in HDV format about the climb, directed by Glass.

Our crew of 11 Argentineans followed a new access route from the south, but the vehicles were soon stopped by deep snow. We three mountaineers walked and skied on, totally self-sufficient, for about 50km across mainly unexplored land, following the course of the Salado River, to the base of the mountain. Carrying filming equipment, we experienced very windy and cold conditions, which made setting up camp a daily ordeal. We found unfrozen water only twice during the nine-day expedition. Finally, we climbed a new route, near no existing routes, up the massive southwest face of Pissis. Our route ascended 40-45° snow to a col and then a ridge, during a day when the temperature reached almost-40°C.

Also on September 16, after starting from a camp near the vehicles [22km from the start, with camps at 4,220m, 4,602m, 5,075m, and 5,547m], Guillermo Almaraz, Eduardo Namur, and Nicolas Pantaleon made the first winter ascent of Cerro Veladero (6,436m), climbing by a new route from the west. The first winter ascent of Aconcagua (6,959m) was made in 1953, and of Ojos del Salado (6,879m) in 1989. Mt. Pissis rises in one of the earth’s most virgin regions, fortunately included in a government Natural Protected Area.

Dario Bracali, Argentina, AAC