Thursday, February 14, 2013

Patagonian Last Hurrah

After climbing on Innominata, we spent the next eleven days hanging out in El Chalten waiting for another spell of good climbing weather. We spent the time trail running, sport climbing around town and bouldering. I also had a chance to put together the blog posts you are reading!

Early last week the forecast was predicting a three day good weather window. J Mills and I put together a last chance plan to climb Fitzroy before the end of our trip. Unfortunately, twenty four hours before starting our climb, the forecast deteriorated to decent weather on parts of two days. The problem was the good weather periods were now only twelve to eighteen hours long and separated by a day of very high wind and precipitation. We didn't think we could climb it in one of the 12 -18 hour good weather periods, especially since neither of us had climbed it before. This lack of familiarity would slow us down and it would be dangerous for us to still be on the mountain when the high winds hit. So we changed our plans and decided to hike our gear up to a high camp called Piedra Negra and stay there for three days. From here we had access to two smaller mountains, 

On February 6th, J and I hiked to Piedra Negra. On the way I tweaked my back lifting my heavy pack, but I was still able to get to the camp. I was concerned about how rock climbing would make me feel so we decided to do an easy climb and settled on the Brenner-Moschioni route on Guillaumet. There were twenty or thirty climbers camped at Piedra Negra that night and in the morning we could see that most of them were headed towards the Brenner route. We quickly changed our plans and switched to the Comesana-Fonrouge route where only one or two pairs of climbers were going. It was a good choice because near the summit both routes converge and it was a big mess with this crowd. On rock it can be difficult for faster teams to pass slower teams because there is usually just one way to go. The slower teams can cause huge backups making it a long day for those stuck behind. Fortunately we avoided most all of that and had a pleasant day on this easy but enjoyable climb.

Me leading first pitch of Comesana-Fonrouge route on Guillaumet

From the summit we had great views of the Pollone group and Marconi Pass that J and I had crossed on our hike out from Cerro Torre.

J on the summit of Guillaumet

My back didn't give me any real problems so we decided to do a more difficult climb next. But, just as was forecast, we we had to sit out the day of bad weather at camp.

We decided to do a route on the north face of Guillaumet called Guillotina. The guidebook showed some 5.11+ pitches on it so it would be a challenge for us.

I took the lead on the first block of four rope lengths and the plan was for J to lead the final four pitches that were more difficult.

Me leading the third pitch

J following

J following

Jay took over the lead and did a good job getting us to where Guillotina intersects the Comsana-Fonrouge route we climbed a couple of days ago.

J leading one of the crux pitches

By this time it was getting late and we still had to walk down to the road and get a ride back to El Chalten. So we skipped the last couple of pitches of guillotina and rappelled down.


Hiking out

After these climbs it was time for J to fly home. My wife, Ann, was flying into El Calafate the next day. Ann and I have two weeks of trekking planned both here in Argentina as well as in Torres del Paine in Chile.


  1. Great set of posts Steve. Thanks for sharing. Climb safe.

  2. Wow, it’s very helpful blog for comments.I will try to follow all these activities.
    Trekking in Nepal

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