From February 16 to March 3, 2009, Benno Wagner, Markus Kautz, Paul Sass, and I, all German, visited these remote mountains in Los Glaciares National Park, southwest of Lago Viedma. We entered the area at Estancia Helsingfors, a 4-5 hour drive from El Chaltén or El Calafate. From there a two-day hike, with horrible bushwhacking, reached a plateau and then a glacier traverse to a prominent basin below the north face of Cerro Moyano (2,720m in Buscaini’s book; 2,640m on our GPS, a Garmin Vista HCX). We then spent the night in a snow cave and, on February 20, climbed to the summit. Moyano’s upper part, a massive rock bastion without an easy route visible, was first climbed in 1976 by Héctor Cuiñas, Mario Serrano, and Guillermo Vieiro. After much research, we believe we made the peak’s second ascent, via a variation to the original route. We climbed the lower snowy part of the northeast ridge, then traversed left to an ice gully. The big gully is probably the 1976 route, but 50m to the right we climbed what looked like the easiest, most logical line in the conditions we found. It was 200m of water ice (WI 5-), ending on a huge shoulder. We reached the summit by traversing easy snow slopes and climbing one more ice pitch. From high camp we needed seven hours up and five to descend. Overall grade: D+.
Cerro Norte (2,950m; 2,719m GPS), the highest peak in this area, has complex mountain topography. Brothers Jorge and Pedro Skvar a made the first ascent in 1970. The icy east face, climbed by Casimiro Ferrari in 1986, seems to be the easier route. One or two other ascents have been made from the east and west, but our route now opens northern access. We took a pass to the upper Rio Norte Valley. The ice ramp through the north face appeared to be in good condition, so we installed a high camp on the glacier. Starting at 3:40 a.m. on February 26 we climbed the moderately difficult ramp in three hours. The summit was still far away, and we traversed the long ridge to a distinctive col. From there we kept going left and climbed mixed terrain to the summit ridge (M5 WI4+). We reached the highest point of Cerro Norte at 5 p.m., with incoming bad weather. We chose the rapid descent of the east side and bivied in the Rio Norte valley. After 38 hours roundtrip we returned, exhausted, to our tents. Overall grade: TD.
In the 2009 AAJ, pp. 209–210, Robert Koschitzki reported our climbing what we thought was a new variation on Cerro Moyano. Now, after personal contact with Héctor Cuiñas, a member of the Argentine 1976 first ascent party, we have learned that our route is not a variation of the Argentine Route, but a completely independent one. [The Argentine Route ascends a gully on the left side of the north face (barely visible on the shaded north face in the inset photo in AAJ 2009), then the northeast ridge to the summit—Ed.]