American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Aguja Dumbo, South Face, Andre And Sophie

Argentina-Chile, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Marconi Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Henry Bizot
  • Climb Year: 2015
  • Publication Year: 2016

I arrived in El Chaltén on October 26 and two days letter met Gabriel Fava (Argentina). We hoped the weather conditions, which are difficult in this area, would allow us to climb at least one mountain by a new route in the little-visited Marconi Range. 

On October 30 we reached our first camp at Electrico Laguna. The next day we reached the Marconi Glacier on the east side of the Marconi Range, where we made our second camp. From there, we aimed to climb a needlelike peak. In a picture, its west face appeared to be steep and covered in snow and ice.

Gabriel and I set out for the climb on November 1, climbing to a col (ca 1,990m) north of Cerro Rincon and the series of peaks that includes Aguja Volonqui, etc. We hoped this would allow us to scope the west face. From the col, the snow conditions appeared dangerousup this vertical and difficult face, and we decided not to climb it. We were a little disappointed, but that’s the rule for new discoveries! Just to our north, we spotted a ridge that was protected by a 100m face and decided to climb it instead. Initially, there was a 65° slope, followed by two mixed passages—the first M3 and the next M4. We then joined the ridge and a few meters higher reached one of its smaller summits. There are no other known ascents of this ridgeline. [This is the ridgeline coming up from the ca 1,990m col, opposite Aguja Volunqui's southern ridge.] We rappelled and returned to Chaltén.

A few days later, the forecast indicated a window of good weather for November 9. We left El Chaltén on November 6, utilizing our previouscamp one location, a second camp in the rocks just before Marconi Pass, and then crossed Marconi Pass onto the Hielo Continental. We walked along the Marconi Range and made a third camp just west of a mountain called Aguja Dumbo (2,484m). This peak had seen one prior ascent, by Slovenians Dejan Koren and Boštjan Mikuž in 2013. [See www.pataclimb.com for more information on this route. The peak has also been called Cerro Dumbo, and its elevation was estimated by the IGM in 1992; see AAJ 1993.] We hoped to attempt its unclimbed south face, which appeared to be comprised mainly of snow and ice and possibly rock. Again, all we had were two pictures to guide us.

At 4 a.m. on November 9, Gabriel and I departed camp. After climbing loose snow, we reached the base of the south face (ca 1,842m). We began our climb on slopes up to 50°, crossed a snow rib, and then continued up snow and ice couloirs (45–50°). The weather was unstable, cloudy, and windy, with occasional peeks of sun, but the snow conditions were good on the face. A 10m section of 65° climbing brought us to a col. From here, we climbed a narrow, south-facing ridge (50–65°), with great views of the Hielo Continental to our left and the Marconi Glacier to our right. Just below the upper ridge we climbed, along this ridge, a delicate 100m passage with mixed steps and a 70° step. Above this we could see the summit, 100m farther to the north. By 9:30 a.m. Gabriel and I were on the summit.

We descended with four rappels, two from deadman anchors and two from pickets, and some downclimbing. However, the adventure was not quite finished: On our walk out we faced a huge Patagonian storm. We made a camp in the rocks just after Marconi Pass. The wind blew throughout the night and broke some tent stakes. The next day we reached El Chaltén.

The new route on Aguja Dumbo’s south face is splendid, logical, and aesthetic. We called it Andre and Sophie (650m, D M3 65°).

– Henry Bizot, France

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