PATAGONIAN FIRST ASCENT, trip report w/pics


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Big Wall climber
southeast face portaledge
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 9, 2008 - 04:45pm PT
EDIT (Important info)- Upon further research, I have found out some more information on what peak I actually climbed for the first ascent. On most of the local maps, the name Quirquinchos is indescriminately drawn over a cluster of four independent towers. After obtaining more info on these peaks, it is now apparent that I in fact climbed the higher of the Los Gemelos (the twins). Our tower, Gemelo Alto, was in fact virgin. The peak Quirquinchos is actually just to the left of the Gemelos, in between the Gemelos and Catedral.
To further complicate things, the peak that is designated Gemelos on most local maps is definately not the Gemelos. It is a single summit of bad dark rock, that has most likely never been climbed. Confused yet?

Ok, back to the trip report-

Ok, I know that this site is usually reserved for political commentary, bad jokes, and other mis-informations, but here is actually a real live trip report from the heart of southern Patagonia!
Just getting back from the park a few days ago, I am still very happy about what we got done in my first adventure of the season. We gave a great attempt on a pretty difficult ice and mixed line on Cerro Fortaleza, but got absolutely stormed off the route. Changing gears, we turned our attention to a smaller, but yet very beautiful virgin tower that was tucked back into the rear of the French Valley. Making the first ascent of the peak, our route Adios Ayer 5.10- 400m, turned out to be a lot of fun and a great adventure.

Here are a few photos and stories describing my latest adventure in the Paine region of southern Chilean Patagonia.

Here are the three of us once in Puerto Natales, the jump off point into the Paine massif.

Myself, Aaron, and Walker in front of our hostel with some of our bags. Traveling down here together (except for losing walker for two days!), some young climbers just looking for trouble! We are out in front of just about the best hostel to stay in the Patagonia area- Erratic Rock. But book ahead a few days on their website, they are almost always full. From here, the bus picks you up in the morning and takes you right into the park. Straight to the catamaran-

This nice and quick boat cuts off a nice chunk of the approach to the French Valley, where we wanted to make our base camp for the next ten days.

The view from the boat was very nice, and very promising. The weather had been ok for the last two days, and was kind of holding.
Carrying the loads took another two days, but soon we had our base camp set up at the standard upper valley camp spot- Campamento Britanico.

After the load carrying we took a day to rest, relax, and to prepare for our attempt on Cerro Fortaleza the next day. Our already established route we were trying was the south east buttress 5.10 WI4+ A2 1,700m, which had already seen about three or four ascents. In this photo it is the couilour in the center of the photo that leads to the two giant dihedral/chimney systems.

We climbed up the initial 500 or so meters of easier snow coulior, to a point in which we could build a snow cave for our one planned bivy on route. After a quick bivy, we got up and headed out at around 5am. Cold, but great conditions.

The remainder of the coulour was steepening, and I used the rope to belay mark up to the start of the first of two cruxes. In front of us was a 100 meter section of ice and mixed climbing which was a bit steeper and thinner than in the photos that we had from previous teams. Two of the previous teams found the ice to be in, but at over 90 degrees in places. The third team reported it to be more around 75 degrees and only 60 meters long. We definitely found it to be steeper and thinner than the other parties (two days later the two pitches fell off).
I fired off the first pitch which had next to no protection, and then snapped these two pics-
One pic looking down the pitch-

One pic looking up the next, more difficult pitch-

At this point the camera went away as I led the next pitch, and did not come back out for the rest of the climb due to what I will refer to as a ‘proper Patagonian ass whooping’! The clouds which had been building all morning had now completely filled in the sky, and started to darken into a disturbingly dark presence. Not even half way up the pitch, we were now in a full on storm. The ice was steep and demanding, and I had to punch it 60m up this pitch with only five pieces in- tied off screws, a birdbeak, and a mystery fixed pin which only the tat was exposed! As I got the belay in, the avalanches started. Huge amounts of snow started to accumulate in the dihedral/bowl system above us, and the extreme gusts of wind would wash it all down right on top of us, almost as if being drug behind a snowmobile at times!
Mark left the belay, just unclipping from the anchor and pro, in order to get up to me faster. It was obvious that we would be going down, all he had to do was get up to me with the second thin rope, and we would be outta there. Besides the horrible storm we were in, all was going ok until the crampon came off. And fell 500 meters. Shyt!
Halfway up the hardest pitch he has ever seconded, and now Mark has one crampon and nothing but vertical ice in front of him. Out came the jumars, and the big wall skills kicked in. His jumars were ice-ing up, the wind ripped his aiders from his feet every move, avalanches swept down every twenty seconds, visibility was down to zero; but Mark yelled he was ok as he struggled up. An hour later he pulled up next to me.
Without even re-setting the anchor for minimal booty loss, I threaded the ropes and we were out!
About ten rappels later and we were back at the snow cave picking up our bivy gear on our way back to base camp. We slept well that night, not only because we were tired, but because we knew we gave it our best go and that the weather gods didn’t have us scheduled in correctly in their planner.

Gemelo Alto (Higher Twin Tower)-

Switching gears, we decided to go rock climbing on a different peak, and leave the ice to melt out (our route on Fortaleza fell off 30 hours after we climbed it!). Tucked back into the rear of the French Valley is a tower that had never been climbed. Looked great, and no previous recorded ascents. We were in, and set the alarm for 4 am again.
As we got closer and closer, the route appeared to be amazing! Here is a shot of the route just before starting it-

Our route climbed the wall on the lower right side of the pic, making the horizontal ridge, and taking the right skyline to the summit. We got to the base after four hours of approaching, just in time to get the ever increasing gusts of wind directly on us! But we were not taking no for an answer, so I set off on the first pitch. From the ground it looks as if the climb would be around 6 to 8 pitches, but the view was foreshortened!
Climbing three pitches on the right side of the formation in order to get up onto the horizontal ridge, we then traversed along this ridge until the base of the more difficult climbing (the right skyline of the previous shot). The climbing was super rad now, lots of splitter hand and finger cracks, sometimes on the edge of the arete itself. Almost always in the 5.8 to 5.9 range, the bumped up to slightly harder on three short sections. I believe that these sections could possibly be avoided by slight variations. We were on the straight line shot to the top, which was always deceptively further away than it appeared.

Splitter cracks continued higher and higher until we were forced on the right side of the arete, just before the summit. Here is a shot looking down on Mark who is just about to leave the belay.

The second to last pitch steepened up, and here is a shot looking up at it from our belay (all belays and protection on route was only stoppers and cams. We left nothing on route except our rap anchors.)

Before we knew it, I was bringing Mark up to our knife edge summit blade. Here he is perched up on top-

Nice summit for a nice route. Not bad for a day out in the ´park´. After snapping pics and drinking some water, we started to think of getting down safe. We started our descent down the other side of the tower, down its south face/buttress. Equalized two piece anchors got us safely down, on double rope raps. Before we knew it, we were traversing under Paine Grande on our way back to camp. Paine Grande´s summit mushrooms-

In the end we got back to camp safe and sound. As long as you dont count Mark whipping into the river on the way back! What can I say other than we enjoyed our day in the French Valley!
Big thanks to the AAC, Mugs Stump Committee, Erratic Rock in Natales, and all my sponsors for making this trip happen. And yes, I am here until March and I am just getting started!

-Dave Turner

p.s.- big thanks to Lambone for helping me get the pics to the trip report!
pics hosted on Lambone's Picasa album:


Trad climber
Dec 9, 2008 - 04:59pm PT
Hell yes! Thanks for posting up!

handsome B

Gym climber
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:00pm PT
well damn . . .

thanks for posting up!

Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:03pm PT
Don't know why the summit shot is a red X, is it that way for you guys?

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:03pm PT

Trad climber
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:04pm PT
Yup, red x on the summit shot for me too...though I'd like to see it!


Ice climber
Ashland, Or
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:06pm PT
ah, fixed it

Trad climber
Placerville, California
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:07pm PT
somebody get that guy a sticker for his forehead.

geesh. while the rest of us are chasin each other to the bottom of the recession, pin-pointing political fuk-ups, and arguing about how to be responsibly reckless, these guys are out on the edge impressing the masses.

wow. err, i mean wow!

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:10pm PT
DT knocks another one out of the park.

thx for posting up, great shots!


Dec 9, 2008 - 05:20pm PT
Great job, sluggers! Doin' us proud. Great looking route.
Jerry Dodrill

Sebastopol, CA
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:26pm PT
Hell Yeah!

Trad climber
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:44pm PT
Dingus Milktoast

Dec 9, 2008 - 05:49pm PT


Trad climber
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:53pm PT



Social climber
wuz real!
Dec 9, 2008 - 05:56pm PT
This is perilouslly On-Topic! Nice work, thanks!
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Dec 9, 2008 - 06:09pm PT
Cool ... I love it when the route you do falls off after you back to the ground. I had one ice pitch fall off 15 minutes after the rap.

Crestline CA
Dec 9, 2008 - 06:24pm PT
Nice stuff Dave!! Keep on rolling Bro! Regards to all the Yosemite Bridge Rats down there!!
Thanks for thinking of us and taking the time to write the reports... you are the man!!
Tom Evans

Trad climber
thats what she said...
Dec 9, 2008 - 06:30pm PT
outstanding! thanks for taking the time to fill us in. very nice indeed.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 9, 2008 - 06:39pm PT
Good one Dave!
hey, Russ is looking for content on the WideFetish site... and with all that practice you were putting in down at Generator Crack I'd guess you could pull off some nice Patagonia Ancho!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Dec 9, 2008 - 06:43pm PT
Very nice, nice job bagging that summit!
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