are very few moderate climbs in Patagonia. To be exact, maybe only one.
Climbing in Patagonia is a serious endevour. Though it seems to grow
more crowded with the new guidebook, there is no rescue in the mountains
nor has there ever been a successful one on a big wall there. Even a
serious injury in town will take a few days to get the help needed. Take
this with a grain of salt. Go light, be strong, and only rely on
yourself and your partner. Have the skills and most of all experience to
do just that. Once you do, this place has perhaps the best rock
climbing on the planet along with ice routes that are very dream like!
NW face (aka Kearney/Harrington) of Aguja Saint Exupery is a cool long
route. If Clair De Luna has a party on it already then this route is
well worth it. It's definitely an alpine climb. There are some BEAUTIFUL
pitches but also some non solid run out kind of scary pitches. Enjoy
the views of Cerro Torre at the belays too.
approach is a pain in the ass like all Patagonia approaches but the
views are always stunning. From El Chalten, head to the Torre lake where
tourists stare at the Torre's for hours. From there you can either go
left or right around the lake. Take it from experience, go LEFT! I'll
Right: Follow the trail up on a shoulder/ridge
higher until you feel off route. Keep following it until it dead ends
and has a warning sign about loose rock. This gets quite scary. Think
about a mud crusted 50 degree slope with house sized boulders above
waiting to come down on you and you feeling like your going to slide off
several hundred feet into the lake at any second. It's pretty serious
for an approach. Angle down until your in a depression with big boulders
creeking. Follow that all the way to a camp that's hard to find but
there is plenty of boulders around to set up camp.
longer but worth it. Follow a trail left with a fixed rope across the
water. Harness up and swing your way over. Follow a trail until you
cross the glacier. I did it in tennis shoes hopeless. Your don't really
need to rope up. Finally you get to the other side. Follow the central valley until Camp below Cerro Torre.
took many many hours for us to get to camp below Cerro Torre. Almost a
whole day. You could do it much faster if you knew where to go. We went
into it not knowing.
The following day we approached the next
camp, right below Saint Exupery. This took only a couple hours but it's
REALLY loose glacier terrain. Really wears on you. From there head up a
ramp that's left of Saint Exupery. It heads diagonally right until more
low 5th class moves take you to sort of a boulderfield. We camped here.
It took probably 5 hours to get here. Maybe less? It felt like that.
And your still not there!
the NW face, wake up a little before sunrise and head up. The snow was
total garbage and hadn't froze in a week or two so we took these mid
fifth class slabs to the right to bypass. You rappel these on the way
down but solo them in order to do the climb in a day. Go as fast as
possible as this area is dangerous! This is where every rock falls. Sort
of a toilet bowl! It's super loose in spots. Like loose enough where
one step on some boulders and you feel the whole slope is about to slide
off. It took us 2 and half hours to be ready at the base if I remember.
Now you finally realize why rescue is virtually impossible when you
realize what it took to get to here. And you realize how big Patagonia
pitches are 60+ meter pitches and one of them ended up being almost 100
meters. Stretch it out! 700 meters of terrain to cover. Your basically
aiming for this ramp 120 meters up.
P1 (5.9) Take a sweet
looking crack that sort of is lame at the start but get's really good.
Hanging belay where you run out of rope.
P2 (5.10+) We took the
crack straight up through a finger crack roof higher up that's well
protected. Ended up being the crux for us. This brings you to the ramp
in which you get a better belay. One can move right before the roof but
it's sort of devious. Take the roof. It's interesting and fun.
(5.8ish) Blast off for another 60 meters following the ramp with cool
cracks and death blocks in sections you don't want to cut loose on your
P4 (5.10ish) Follow the face up. It get sort of grainy and run out at the crux but never super dangerous. Belay 60 meters up.
P5 (5.9) Follow the ramp for another rope length.
P6 (5.9) Another rope length up ramp
(5.10a) I guess is the crux but I found it easier then basically all
the other 5.10 pitches. This pitch takes you to the VERY scenic ridge.
(5.8/9) Follow a ledge onto the East Face now and continue for a while
until you start heading up on sort of a buttress. Coninue up for a while
until you cut right when the terrain get's steeper. Belay. Notice the
A1 KB dihedral above you. 100m? Simul climb
P9 (5.9+?) Follow
this sort of dihedral above until you get to a bolt at the very base of
the A1 dihedral. Lead this pitch so you don't get the next pitch or if
your unlucky like me follow it. It's about 40 meters to here.
(5.10 R) It gets super tricky now. The topo doesn't describe much. Head
right past the dihedral onto a face with sort of a flake small corner
feature. You clip one shitty knifeblade with one piece below you that's
by the anchor. It's heady insecure and sort of scary with potential for
big falls maybe on the ledge. I remember them being 5.9+ moves to get to
the KB with your last gear being basically the anchor. Continue up past
the KB until you get to this sort of scary looking sugar flake. Shove 3
pieces of gear into it as it's the last gear you get for 40? ft. Now is
the scary route finding part. It's a 80 degree slab above. No holds at
all so move left on this sloping 75 degree not so great footholds. To
get to this part requires 5.10 moves. Then move left very slowly. Then
you get to some 5.8 terrain that's really runout. Climb to the anchor
and be happy your alive. On this point of the climb the seracs below
Fitz Roy were crashing down. Rockfall was falling all around. Huge
glaciers below you. So awesome!
P11 (5.9) One more pitch taking the line of weakness. A full 60m takes you to the summit!
Take the standard descent line down the face you know nothing about.
Typical Patagonia. Chlair De Luna takes you to the ramp which then take
you to the base. And then you sketch your way down the toilet bowl
hoping rockfall doesn't occur. Rappel 3 raps. All together it was like
15 or something rappels. Important: Bring TWO 60m ropes!!