This route, also known as the Southwest Ridge and/or La Canaleta de Grajales treverses across the lower West and SW faces of Aconcagua, before climbing a huge couloir that leads onto the crest of the SW Ridge. It was first climbed in 1953 by Frederico Marmillod, Dorly Marmillod, Francisco Ibanez and Fernando Grajales in seven days. At first, head South from Plaza de Mulas before climbing up and to the right across the huge scree slopes that mark the lower West Face. Continue traversing for about 1.5 to 2 miles (2-3 kilometers) toward the SW Ridge, along the bottom edge of a cliff that surrounds this side of the mountain like a belt. Looking up, you will see the huge Grajales Couloir descending from above this cliff.
The route is one of the few, not too difficult, technical alternatives to the Polish Glacier or Direct. Yes, it's more remote and technical, but much less so than the famed South Face. For someone. who already did Polish Glacier and would like to come back to Aconcagua to climb something more technical, but not too difficult, this route should provide plenty of challenge. It gets done very infrequently, mostly because a few non Natives know about it.
Once below the Grajales Couloir (see above), continue almost to the crest of the SW Ridge to a deep and narrow gully filled with snow and ice, aprox. 300 feet (100m) high. Climb this chute to the base of the lower towers along the crest of the SW Ridge, very close to Cerro Piramidal (19,714ft, 6009m).Turn left, north at the base of these towers and descend about 656ft. or 200m down to a rocky slope to a ledge that leads to Grajales Couloir. Climb the Couloir until it ends at a cliff. Bypass the cliff by traversing up and left. Climb the slope and small ridges above to meet the crest of the SW Ridge at 22,004 ft. or 6707m.
Follow the SW Ridge crest to the South Summit 22,736ft or 6930m. Descend the Cresta del Guanacos and meet the upper part of the Canaleta on the normal route. Ascend Canaleta to the summit.
Technical alpine gear for a mixed rock and ice climb ending at 7,000 meters or almost 23,000 feet. The innitial rock bands are about YDS 5.5 in difficulty. The Couloir is about 45 degrees steep. We brought small Goretex tent, two ice tools, -5F rated Goretex bags, couple knifeblade pitons, a few Hexes, slings, ice screws, food and fuel for six days, 8.5 mm rope, plastic boots, crampons, helmets and clothing for high altitude.
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