American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Aguja Guillaumet (2,579m), West Face, Manos al Cielo

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2012

Aguja Guillaumet (2,579m), west face, Manos al Cielo. My friend Cheyne Lempe had never been to Patagonia. He’d never set foot on a glacier or climbed a new route. January 2012 was full of new experiences for Cheyne.

Just a few days after our arrival in Chalten, a weather window was forecast. We quickly assembled supplies and hiked up to Piedra Negra base camp, on the north edge of the Fitz Roy Massif. On the morning of the 15th, we left camp at dawn and made the short approach to the west face of Guillaumet.

I’d climbed a new route on this face the year before and remembered myriad clean crack systems cleaving the steep wall. As we hiked under my previous route, we rounded a corner and spotted an amazing line. On the left wall of a major chimney system, a hanging dihedral appeared to sport a clean hand crack over 200m long.

We were soon living the Patagonian dream: jamming clean white granite in T-shirts. The singular corner system was mostly 5.10, with brief steep cruxes up to 5.11+. After four long pitches of such bliss, we reached a major ledge system. Here we explored a few options but eventually continued straight up into a wide chimney. We were surprised to find a bolt, later learning that this portion of the route had been followed on the first ascent of Tee Pitelka (400m, 6b Al, Pitelka-Von Birckhahn, 2010). We avoided most of the wetness in the chimneys, by climbing thin cracks to the left, but did occasionally bridge and squirm on the final few pitches. We reached the summit in late afternoon,

Our fun route, Manos al Cielo (400m, 5.11+), was a perfect introduction for Cheyne to the joys of new-routing. The route name (Hands to the Heavens) is a tribute to Carlyle Norman, the young Canadian climber who was killed by rockfall on Aguja St. Exupéry the same day.

Scott Bennett, AAC

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