American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chile, Central Andes, Cerro San Gabriel (3,125m), Northeast Ridge; La Pala (3,647m), East Face; Cerro Bello (5,239m), West Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2012

Cerro San Gabriel (3,125m), northeast ridge; La Pala (3,647m), east face; Cerro Bello (5,239m), west face. In September Christian Quezada, Jaime Wastavino, and I, from the Grupo de Alta Montana of the Perros Alpinos, traveled to Cerro San Gabriel, close to Santiago, to climb a new route on the northeast ridge. We followed the approach used to reach the normal route, up the southeast ridge, and established camp below the mountain. We followed the normal route for an

hour, before leaving it to traverse across avalanche-exposed terrain to reach the base of the northeast ridge. We climbed the east flank of the ridge over mixed terrain and good snow to reach the corniced crest, which we followed to the beautiful summit, which caps one of the classic mountains of central Chile. Graded D-, our route had rock sections of UIAA IV.

In October Christian and I visited the Quelteheus-Las Melosas region, approaching via the Rio Claro Valley. This area has seen few mountaineers, and there are many unclimbed peaks, with potential for very difficult routes. During previous exploration and various attempts on peaks, we had seen a beautiful summit at the confluence of the Claro and unexplored Estero Godoy Valley. There was no record of this peak having been attempted.

On our first day we established base camp at a nice spot in the Claro Valley, where there is vegetation along the river. Next morning we hiked the two km to the foot of the peak in two hours. We entered the Estero Godoy ravine, then continued through loose, rugged terrain. Our route on the east face began with a wide 35°slope that we named La Pala (the Shovel) and followed to the start of the Canaleta. This couloir, five m wide, with an average angle of 60°, short steps of 80°, and good snow, was the only way to reach the final ridge. I was hit on the head by a falling stone but was not seriously injured. Once on the east ridge we continued more easily, apart from a few gendarmes of poor rock. The final snow slopes rose to 45-50°, and after passing penetentes and several false tops, we reached the summit, where the GPS read 3,647m. The vertical gain from base camp had been 1,650m.

Nightfall caught us on the descent, but we regained base camp 16 hours after leaving. We named the peak La Pala, after its most conspicuous feature. The route is D- (80° and III) and is threatened by stonefall.

In the second week of December I went alone to the Bello Glacier [north of Cerro Marmolejo, the southernmost 6,000m peak in the world]. After a two-day approach up the Rio Yeso Valley, I set up base camp on the moraine. Next day I set off for the west face of Cerro Bello. I had to start by crossing the lower half of the glacier, avoiding two large crevassed areas. The first half of the face was a 45°icefield, with sections of 55°, though at this time of year the ice is thin. Above, short 60° icefields were interspersed with sections of poor rock at IV. To reach the final ridge at 5,050m, I had to climb 20m of hard 65°ice, followed by a few easy meters of rotten rock. The final 180m was really exposed, in several places no more than half a meter wide, with drops of several hundred meters on both sides. The 1,200m ascent was TD (WI3 IV).

Elvis Acevedo, Chile, translated by Alex Horner

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