I had been eyeing a line on the southwest face of Cerro Meliquina (2,602m) since my 2011 trip to the peak and successful ascent of the northeast face [AAJ 2012]. In 2012, I was fortunate enough to revisit the mountain, which is located in the Cordon La Torre, between Rio Leones Valley and Rio El Canal Valley (the closest town is Puerto Rio Tranquilo, which lies north).
On November 26, Erik Bonnett and I, both NOLS instructors, got to take advantage of our students’ rest day and left our camp (ca 1,800m) at 6 a.m. to try the route. We ascended to a pass (ca 2,000m) below the southwest face, then simul-climbed about 450m before beginning a traverse along the ridge to the summit. The traverse was mainly on loose, snow-covered rock. About 200m from the summit we did a short rappel to reach easier ground and summited around 1 p.m. We descended the north ridge and arrived at the rappel station from my previous climb. We continued down to the glacier to camp, arriving at 4 p.m., able to share a fun story with the students.
This was the first ascent of the Cerro Meliquina’s southwest face: Los Azules Brillosos (600m, AI2+ 5.4) A few days after our climb, three students and I climbed Cerro La Torre (2,300m) (45° Class 3). Overall, this area has great mountaineering objectives, many climbed by NOLS groups, and some impressive alpine climbing potential too.