AGUJA GUILLAUMET (2530m)
On the first day after our arrival, we wanted to leave for "Piedra del Freile" to climb the "Brenner" route at Aguja Guillamet. It did not work, because our luggage did not arrive. Even a nightly two-hour bike ride through 'El Chalten' in search of the little white bus from "Las Lengas" didn't help. So we went to sleep.
We postponed our idea for 24 hours knowing that we had only half a day of good weather, but it worked well: Instead of starting in "Piedra del Freile" we started at 2 o'clock in 'El Pillar' where a Taxi brought us, within about 5 hours we reached the Passo Guillamet and started climbing.
Nice pitches led us to the well known "Brenner-crack", which was iced though. So we had to skip to the right, wide "Offwidth" which was dry. Wält as an experienced Indian Creek climber was not particularly keen on the lead, but climbed his way up with a technique I've never seen before . The 12-meter runout without a big sized Camelot was only noticeable by a short, questioning, very doubtful look down.
When I arrived at the start of the Offwidth, Wält called to me: "Michi, have you ever done Butterflys?" I thought something sarcastic about something like butterflies in my stomach ... last time I had 8 years ago ... After a short explanation I understood what it was about. He wanted to explain me making a big jam out of two hand jams...I tried and got up to the belay somehow.
The rest was easy and we quickly reached the summit where Patagonia finally showed off its windier side. Two hours later we were back in Passo Guillamet. The wind whipped so violently over the ridges that we could hear the legendary bang for the first time with our own ears: Like when a jet breaks through the sound barrier! To my amusement, the wind in the descent threw the small, old (53) Swiss Wält twice down on his butt :-). After another 5hrs we arrived back in El Pillar.
All together after 16 hours on our feet it was clear we hitch hike. However, there was competition: Two pretty trekker girls from France were also on the road. We were lucky. Two minutes later - 1: 0 Equipo Suiza, father and son, some people though - stopped a car, off to Chalten, where we were immediately eating Bife de Chorizo and a cold beer. This is followed by a deserved rest day, when we went bouldering with Luca Schiera from the Ragni di Lecco. I was surprised by the really great lines in Chalten and enjoyed two or three projects, which I saved for coming back in bad weather days. The following five days passed quickly.
AGUJA DE l'S
As the next, short weather window announced, we wanted to go to the Torre Valley. Goal: To do something fine at the St. Exupery, Mocho, Medialuna or De la S. Since we were - frankly - too lazy to carry all the camping equipment to the Niponino, we spent the night in the Angostini Camp.
Get up at 2am. and head for Torre Glacier.
Soon we reached the moraine. Without information, we walked the path we knew from previous years, and after 30 minutes down at the lake, gazed in the dark night on a 70 ° steep moraine, which ended in the water. "I will not go through here!" All further attempts to cross the moraine low ended in steep terrain. It would have been Harakiri. So all the way back up and look for a weak part to get down the moraine. It was getting light as we finally found a way through this labyrinth.
The motivation was gone after all this, when we finally put our feet on the Torre Glacier. Wält's comment: "Patagonia fights back with with all it have today." When we finally arrived in Niponino after 7 hours, it rained. It was also really windy. New decision: go to the mocho! But the weather was against us: still raining and soaking wet pants. In short, it was disgusting. Sit down. Think.
Change of plan: Change the valley side. Two hours later we were sitting in Campo Polacos. When the sun showed, we decided to leave for Aguja de la S. Of course, without proper crampons and ice axe, we did not know how far we would get and so we only took one 50m single rope with us.
The long traverse under the Aguja St. Exupery was very beautiful. We had a great view of the Torre group and had to realize again that the weather at Cerro Torre is always worse than at Fitz Roy. We fast climbed up to the "The Brecha de los Austriacos". This action reminded me of a fast and light ascent with my friend Ueli Steck: in sneakers and ice ax, without rope, in running pants, without down jacket ... the storm that caught us unexpectedly in the summit area could have ended badly. Now I know how fast the situation can change from pink to black. But here and now, no situation should change. We had great weather and climbed the Aguja de la S. When rappelling the 50m rope was a bit impractical. Three times a stuck rope in the first three pitches is not a good start, but that's the way it is sometimes.
We climbed and rapped off the couloir and headed back to Niponino, where we met friends at around 5.30pm, who kindly gave us a few bars. After that it was about 4.5 hours back to our tent. The next morning the mountains were again covered with clouds and so we went back to our loved Chalten.
FITZ ROY (3406m)
After six days of recovering and bouldering slowly a weather window approached. We chose the "Supercanaletta" on Fitz Roy. I was fascinated by this big mountain. We estimated the conditions in the rock too badly to be able to realistically try a more difficult route. Again out of laziness, to carry our camping equipment to the camp just below the "Super" , we decided to start from Piedra del Freile, and approach some 5 hours more.
At 1.30 am we headed for the Fitz. Not 10 minutes after we roped on the glacier, he opened his mouth and wanted to swallow me! After 5 hours we stood at the bivouac place under the Canaletta. There we saw numerous headlamps at the end of the couloir, about 1000m above us. Later it turned out that four rope teams started at 1 o'clock at the Bergschrund. Luckily, we were able to catch up with them after just three hours and were able to overtake well in the pitches around the "Bloque Empotrato". They took it a bit more easy - the combination of cigarette smoke and the crowd reminded me more of a club than a big route on Fitz Roy. They had not only marijuana, but also a beatbox! For us everything went smoothly and we were in a good flow. We took leads in blocks, each one always leading 100-200 meters. The terrain was not particularly difficult. Dean Potter called the upper part of the "Supercanaletta" a row of boulders. Which he was right: It is always quite flat and then comes a difficult passage of 5 to 30 meters. The upper passages were covered with a lot of "rime", which did not make the pathfinding easy, because you could not see where the cracks were. And for sure it made the climbing a bit more spicy. After all, we had Beatbox sound from below on the last 8 pitches. At 5.30 pm we reached the summit and thought for a long time where we should abseil. "Franco-Argentina" with less stone and icefalls, but snow-covered belays? Or the dangerous "Canaletta" Colin Haley once said that mountaineering in Patagonia is a "master class in rappelling". There are almost zero walk-offs in this mountain range, and only a small handful of routes have bolted anchors. Almost all the vertical meters that you climb up you will also rappel down, on Abolokovs, pitons, chocks, slung horns, buried stuff sacks, and when you’re unlucky, cams. There are often loose blocks that your falling rope will catch on, and much worse, that your rope will dislodge.
After Wält's wish, if I could lead the descent, I found myself in this mode for six hours - four of them at night - making about 45 raps, always searching and hoping to find another belay. This time it worked better than at the Aguja de la S. Fortunately, we did not have a single rope stuck and sacrificed only two nuts, two slings and two carabiners. A good result. When we finally reached the ice couloir, we realized that the high temperatures had turned the whole route into a single shower. Every step in the snow was a step in a 60-70 ° mud and water. We were completely soaked with water! At 1.30am we reached our sticks and the stove. After a meal we went to Piedra del Freile.
On the way back, we were met by two headlamp lights. A voice with American slang shouted, "Walter, Michi?" Colin and Austin were on their way to Affanasiev. Believing that we had to bail because of too many people in the route, Colin tried to comfort us until he realized that we were still on the move! But yeah, who jumps over the glacier in the wrong direction at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning? Usually only climbers who bail. Or those who are too lazy to carry the camping equipment too far.
9 o'clock was time for beer and pizza. What a Treat
Since the weather forecast for the last week looked bad, we left El Chalten after 3 weeks with 3 peaks in the bag very happy and drove by bus 25h to Bariloche where we spent a few days in the crack paradise "Frey" and were also able to make a cross country flight over Bariloche and Frey.
We want to be back!