Cerro Pollone, East Face, First Ascent, Re Puesto!
South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia
Foregoing Chalten’s legendary New Year’s Eve fiesta, Neil Kauffman and I launched into the hills. We caught a few hours of sleep at the Piedra Negra bivouac, grabbed our previously-cached gear, and headed over Paso Cuadrado and down onto the North Fitz Roy Glacier. As first light hit our objective, we sat back and studied our anticipated line to Cerro Pollone’s untouched eastern summit. We would begin on the right side of a low rock buttress, try to avoid imposing seracs, then cross a high snowfield and try to access the unclimbed northeast ridge to the summit.
Neil launched off on the first lead block, weaving through 250m of mostly high-quality rock. At the top of the buttress we switched to ice gear and simul-climbed past an upper bergschrund to access the ridge. Leading off this second block in rock shoes and with a single tool, I delicately climbed a frozen water groove to a large flake and then onto the ridge proper. A few pitches of thin ridge climbing later we found ourselves at a crux. A steep, slabby gendarme blocked further ridge climbing. We found a great hand and fingers crack until it ended in a seam, then pounded some iron and pendulumed into another crack system. Exposed free climbing then led to easy, clean aid in a wet, dirty crack that brought us back to the ridge. Another few pitches of great 5.10 crack systems led to just below the ridge, where we romped to the summit block.
After an exaggerated summit photo session and several minutes scoping the wonderland of alpine rock around us, we started our descent. Three 60m drops landed us on the high snowfield where most of Cerro Pollone’s eastern routes end or transition. We decided to bivy at the top of the Mastica e Sputa buttress and finish the anticipated walk-off in the morning.
The night passed slowly in our one-man sleeping bag cover, switching alpine spoon positions until dawn. After a short walk down the glacier, we made two quick raps and were back to the North Fitz Roy Glacier.
“Re puesto” has many meanings, but in Argentine slang is understood as “totally buggered” or “wasted,” which matched our dehydrated physical state. Re Puesto! (600m, 5.10 A1 65°).