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South America, Chile, Southern Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Agujas Walicho and Kenko, First Ascents

Agujas Walicho and Kenko, first ascents. In early March 2007 Chileans Tomas Marusic (from Punta Arenas), Jaime Sapunar (from Puerto Natales), and I climbed two towers between Cerro Blanco Sur and Cordon Olguin in the northwest corner of the Torres del Paine National Park. We accessed this area via the “circuit trail,” from the Refugio Grey to the Paso John Garner. The last valley before the pass gives the best access to the towers we climbed. The other valleys are very steep, and one would have to climb loose sedimentary rock to get to the base of the granite formations. The valley does not offer protected places for a high camp, so we camped in the forest not far from the circuit trail. From there it took us four hours to reach a small glacier below our objectives, a series of unclimbed and unnamed granite towers.

On our first day we took equipment to the base and fixed three pitches on the west face of one of the towers. The second day we climbed a further four pitches to reach the summit (300m, III 5.10+ Al). We named the tower Walicho, a word in the native Tehuelche tongue that means wizard. This is the first formation anywhere in Paine to have a native-tongue name. We placed one bolt and one pin at each belay. The rock quality was not particularly good.

Tomas hurt his knee and had to go back to Punta Arenas. Jaime and I then climbed a steep, pointy tower just left of Aguja Walicho. On March 14 we bivied one hour from the base, and the next day we climbed an easy but exposed snow couloir on the left side of the west face for about 1,000' (50-65°). After seven pitches, near the end of the couloir, we climbed onto the granite and climbed a further three pitches to the summit (450m, III 5.10). We named this second tower Aguja Kenko.

Andre de la Barca, Puerto Natales, Chile (translated by Rolando Garibotti)