Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Success on Cerro Rincon

Cerro Colorado

Hola chicos and chicas, coming to you live from Bariloche, in the middle of the twister that just touched down, the newest installment of the Patagonia Sufferfest 2009!
After Arenales, I was unable to get a ticket down to Bariloche to climb at the Frey due to New Year´s crowds, so Amir and I went back up to the Cordon del Plata to do some more climbing at altitude, and I hoped to have a bit more success on some of the peaks in the back of the valley that I got too sick to climb earlier on last month.
We went out with light alpine packs and based ourselves out of Refugio San Bernardo where we could cook our food and sleep without having to take tents out with us. The trade-off is that the refugio is only at 9,000 ft. With three days out there to spend before needing to be back in Mendoza to catch our bus, we had limited options.
Day one we climbed Cerro Adolfo Calle (13,470 ft) for acclimazation, an easy trekking summit in the middle of the valley.

Summit of Cerro Adolfo Calle

The next day we just hung out around the refugio, sleeping and eating lots of food, as we planned to leave at 2am the next morning to attempt Cerro Rincon at the far end of the valley, in a single push. This would shape up to be a big day.
We left the refugio at 2:15am, hiking by headlamp. We reached Campo Salto (13,500 ft) at 7am, and rested for 30 minutes or so in the mess tent drinking hot tea and stretching, and trying to warm our cold fingers.
View towards Mendoza from below Campo Salto

Underneath the Supercanaleta on Rincon

The glacier and Cerro Rincon on the right, Cerro Plata in the background

We left shortly thereafter, crossing Stepanek Glacier, underneath the impressive but out of season Supercanaleta, to gain the East Ridge of Rincon. It was a long slog up the ridge to 15,500ft where we took our last break before the final push up to the summit ridge and to the top. The problem: this far into the season the normal snow couloir leading up to the summit ridge becomes a postholing nightmare through deep penitentes (suncups). We opted to flank the couoir through a series of rockbands. It took us 2.5 hours to routefind through some pretty nasty choss, but we finally hit the long summit ridge. I am feeling pretty toasted at this point, and am making a strong case for heading back, but it is purely physical exhaustion and not symptoms of AMS, so Amir pushes me on, and by 1:30pm, we are standing atop Cerro Rincon, at 17,017 ft. The views west towards Chile and unknown chains of peaks in the distance were breathtaking. The Andes are BIG.

The final summit ridge.
On the way down, negotiating the foul rock bands was no fun, and we got lost in a thick fog whiteout for 30 minutes or so before we navigated our way back onto the east ridge and down to Salto.
The clock stopped when we hit the refugio again, for a total time of 16 hours 25 minutes, 8,000 ft gained to the summit (16,000 total).
Amir on summit.
Me at summit

Sadly these are the only pictures I have for now, for some reason my camera isn´t working, so all photo credits go to Amir.
I am now in the Frey, having climbed sick granite spires for the last 6 days up there and leave tomorrow for another 8, so pictures and updates will soon follow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Success on Cerro Rincon"
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