Cordon del Plata, Cerro Vallecitos (5,475m), East Face, De Paso…Canazo
South America, Argentina, Central Andes
On September 23 Luciano Fiorenza and Pablo Pontoriero (Argentina) opened an important new route on the impressive east face of Cerro Vallecitos. They started from Salto base camp, with high winds that prevailed during the previous night stopping when they reached the face.
Initial 60°slopes led into a couloir and to small icefalls. At 5,000m, mid-height on the face, they hit the crux, a two-pitch icefall, followed by a third pitch on snow and mixed terrain. The ground above was easier, though the snow was bad. They exited onto the summit ridge via a 60° couloir and reached the central summit, which offers an impressive view of Aconcagua. They claim that this summit is the highest but traversed the exposed ridge (one 20m rappel) to the south summit. They named the route De Paso…Canazo (1,000m, MD, WI4 M3) and descended the normal route, reaching the Salto camp 14 hours after setting out.
The south summit has a cross and is the summit normally reached by other routes. The normal route to this summit is relatively popular, due to easy access, both from Mendoza (the Cordon is an hours drive), and the standard Salto base camp, at 4,300m. The mountain is more or less snow free in high summer, there is an easy path most of the way, and there is only a short scramble to reach the top. It is therefore often the first mountain for local aspirant climbers, and the area provides excellent acclimatization before one heads to nearby Aconcagua.