Cerro Pollone, A Fine Place, Variation to Summit, and First Traverse
South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia
In February 2011, Scott Bennett and I started 45m up and left from the toe of Cerro Pollones west pillar, climbing a “scoop” and series of left-facing corners and overlaps. This was a four-pitch variant start to A Fine Piece (5.10 A2, Crouch- Donini, 1999), which starts a couple of pitches lower and 50m or more to the right of the toe of the west pillar. Our first four pitches involved discontinuous cracks and flakes/overlaps, and we joined A Fine Piece at the end of their seventh pitch. After the initial four or five pitches, we saw a single bolt at each belay (left on Swiss Michel Piola and Daniel Anker’s 1988 attempt, which ended about two-thirds up the pillar). We also found occasional cams and slings left by Crouch and Donini, as they descended from atop the pillar. We bivied at pitch 12 (of 14 or so) on the pillar, then continued to the top of the pillar and for another five more pitches to the summit via good rock and mostly easy climbing (one short bit of 5.10). The rock is fantastic, and many of the middle pitches feature interesting knobs and pockets. The freeclimbing crux was a well-protected rightward crack switch on the 4th pitch that was about 5.11d/7a. The leader freed every pitch, with the follower sometimes A0-ing, pulling on gear, or doing poor-mans jugging.
The climbing from atop the pillar to the summit was in the vicinity of the 1949 first ascent route, some likely on new ground. Between the summit of Pollone and the (lower) east summit, we rappelled off of two gendarmes and finally found some bad rock on the final gendarme before the east summit. Here we used a point of A0 to surmount an overhang. From the east summit we found some of the anchors left by Neil and Jim [see below], and generally copied their descent onto the Fitz Norte Glacier.