South America, Chile, Asien Region, Cordillera Meliquina, Cerro Meliquina (2,602m), Northeast Face
Cordillera Meliquina, Cerro Meliquina (2,602m), northeast face. Our group of eight NOLS instructors left Coihaique on December 24, reached Rio Leones, then turned west and traveled up the Leones Valley toward Lago Leones, as far as Rio Meliquina. We now headed south up this side valley, and after a walk of two and a half days, reached the east side of Cerro Meliquina (approximately 46°49’51” S, 73°04’12” W), where we established base camp. There appears to have been little travel in the Cordon Meliquina, northwest of the Cordon Contreras. To our knowledge Cerro Meliquina remained unclimbed, though two of the group, Michel Raab and Betsy Winston, had attempted the mountain with students.
On the 27th the group made an unsuccessful attempt on the north ridge. On the 28th we split into two groups, with one trying the south face and the other the northeast face. Again neither was successful. On the 29th, while other members of the group moved camp, Michel, Betsy, and I cached our gear and made another attempt on the northeast face. The bergschrund proved to be the crux, after which moderately steep glaciated slopes led to the summit ridge and highest point. We rated the 600m route D AI2 5.7.
We descended the north ridge, to collect our gear at 1 p.m., by which time wind had started to blow Patagonia style. Wind and soft snow made for slow travel. Once united with the rest of the team, we dropped off the glacier onto rock to escape the coming weather, though it turned out to be not as harsh as anticipated. We regained our vehicles on the 31st and returned to Coihaique.