The Aguja Poincenot is located in the northern part of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
, in Argentinian Patagonia. This granit spire is part of the FitzRoy range that stretches (south to north) from Cerro Techado Negro
(2152m) to Cerro Electrico
(2257m). Its closest neighbor is the world-famous Cerro FitzRoy
(3375m - also known as Cerro Chalten).
Photo by poice2004
Aguja Poincenot was named after the French alpinist Jacques Poincenot
who drowned in Rio FitzRoy
in 1952. A French expedition went to this region that year to conquer the nearby FitzRoy. On the first day of walking towards the base camp, Jacques Poincenot fell into Rio FitzRoy
and died. Rough experience for his fellow members. However they decided to carry on with the expedition. Eventually Guido Magnone and Lionel Terray
managed to reach the summit of FitzRoy. And to keep memory of the presence of Jacques Poincenot in the team, they decided to give its name to the elegant spire located South of FitzRoy.
It's only 10 years later that Aguja Poincenot was conquered in 1962 by Frank Cochrane (IRL) & Don Whillans (UK)
. Nowadays climbers come here mostly to ascend FitzRoy, and routes on Aguja Poincenot have far less visitors.
NB : Aguja means Needle
Getting There and Staying
Rio Blanco base camp
There are two ways to access El Chalten
The most common is by bus from El Calafate
. There are 1 or 2 buses per day, taking 4 hours.
Two companies run this service : CalTur
and Chalten Travel
Second solution : you can come from Villa O'Higgins
in Chile (southern end of the Carretera Austral) by boat (once to twice a week) across Lago O'Higgins. Then hike for 25 kms and take a second boat on Lago del Desierto
. From there, there is an evening bus to El Chalten. All details on this incredible crossing : Cruce VOH a El Chalten
As far as accomodation is concerned, there are several youth hostels and camp sites in town. One I can recommend that offers both beds and camp grounds is El Refugio
, located on the main street (6$ per night and per bed / 2$ per night and per person in tent).
Kitchen facility and hot shower included in the bed price.
To reach the base camp of Aguja Poincenot, you need to take the trail go towards Laguna de Los Tres
. Shortly after having gone through Campamento Poincenot (campground for hikers) you will reach Campamento Rio Blanco
(meant for climbers - alt. 750m). About 2h/2h30 are required for this campground.
A higher camp is then set up at the Paso Superior
(Higher Pass) at about 2000m. From there the ascent starts. To reach the Paso Superior from Campamento Rio Blanco, you need hike up to Laguna de Los Tres first (alt. 1160m) then walk on the left shore. Once on the other side of the lake, ascend the steep slope to reach the Paso Superior.
Access to Aguja Poincenot
Red Tape and Weather Conditions
Laguna de Los Tres covered in snow (early spring)
Aguja Poincenot is part of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
. A permit is required to ascend this peak. You can obtain it at the main office in El Calafate
As any protected area, it is forbidden to camp outside campsite, or lit fires. Take all trash away with you.
Be aware that in Patagonia the weather can change brutally
. From warm sun to snow storm in a few hours of hours, any time of the year. Take warm and waterproof clothes with you, and be ready for tough conditions. The best time to climb would be bewteen December to February
, but there can be stronger wind during these months.
Routes on East Face
EAST / SOUTHEAST FACE
o Normal Route SE ridge (600 m TD) by Frank Cochrane (IRL) & Don Whillans (UK) in 1962
o Southeast Pillar (1300m ED+ 7a/A3) by A. Bortoli, A. Carnati & M. Colombo (ITA) in 1986
o Patagonicos Desesperados (600m ED 6c/A3+) by Daniel Anker & Michel Piola (SWI) in 1989
o Whisky Time (700m ED+ 5.11+/A4) by B. Eggler & M. Pitelka (SWI) in 1994
SOUTH / SOUTHWEST FACE
o Normal route (1200m TD) by José Luis Fonrouge & Alfredo Rosasco (ARG) in 1968
o Endless Story (1000m ED+ 6c/A3) by Fernando Cobo & Murcia Murcia (SPA) in 1987
o Judgement Day (1200 ED 5.11/A1) by S. Gerberding & J. Smith (USA) in 1992
o Bagual Bigwall (1300m ED+ 5.11/A3) by M. Schwitter & A. Maag (SWI), M. Ishibe & A. Portela (BRA) in 1995
WEST / NORTHWEST FACE
o Normal route (800m TD) by Rab Carrington & Alan Rouse (UK) in 1977
o Northwest Pillar (700m ED 6c/A2) by Daniele Bosisio, Mario Panzeri, Marco Della-Santa & Paolo Vitali (ITA) in 1986
o Le Vieux Contrebandier (700m ED 5.10+/A2) by G. Crouch & J. Donini (USA) in 1996
One guidebook with a little information about this peak is :
The Andes : A Guide For Climbers
by John Biggar - Jul. 2005
ISBN : 0953608727
Map of the area :
Monte Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre
Scale > 1:50.000
ISBN : 1879568292
Weather forecast :
On Infoclima > El Chalten
Official website for El Chalten : Capital Argentina del Trekking
Official website of the National Park : Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Excellent general information on Aguja Poincenot (in French) : Expé.com