American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Desmochada, Puerta Blanca

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Desmochada, Puerta Blanca. On February 7 Mario Walder (Austria) and I hiked in from Campo Bridwell to Niponino, the camp directly below El Mocho. In unstable weather we waited another day and only hiked to the base of the route to check everything out.

At 6 a.m. on the 9th we hiked to the base of the Desmochada’s west face. Our route starts at the left end of the face and follows the obvious ramp system to the beginning of the snow and ice couloir that separates de la Silla from Desmochada. From the narrow col atop the couloir, the route follows the north buttress (the descent route from the Bridwell line, El Condor) directly to the summit.

We climbed the first 300m of easy low-angle ramps to the start of roped climbing, on a beautiful, grey pillar of the best granite. After six pitches we gained easy terrain and continued to the big ramp. Seven wild pitches brought us to the couloir between de la Silla and Desmochada. The couloir, with 40-50° snow and ice, is not hard, and we reached col—the “Puerta Blanca”—where we spent the night.

The next morning we climbed the 250m buttress that leads directly to the summit. First, two pitches of mixed climbing in iced-up cracks, then four pitches of beautiful and pleasant climbing, and at 12 noon we reached the top of Desmochada. After many rappels we reached our tent at Niponino in late afternoon and returned to Campo Bridwell the next morning.

We climbed the route without previous exploring, fully alpine style. Most of the route had been climbed during previous attempts, but, as far as we know, nobody had reached the summit by this route. Because of the snowfall in the days just before our ascent, some of the wall was iced-up and made for difficult climbing. Due to the cold and icy conditions we didn’t redpoint all the pitches.

Although not hard technically, the route is highly alpine, challenging, and long (1,300m, 5.10 A0). It is exposed to objective dangers, especially low. Due to its ever-changing terrain, the climbing demands experience, logistically and tactically. To repeat the route, we recommend bringing Camalots 0-4, a full set of stoppers, three ice screws, crampons, and ice axes. A small set of pitons might help, though they aren’t essential. Aside from the rappel stations, there is no fixed gear on the route.

Alexander Huber, Germany

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