Trip Report
In Aysen Patagonia the trick is getting to the climb
Monday January 8, 2018 4:30am
Chileís Aysen Patagonia is bordered on the west by the vast North Patagonia ice cap and on the east by the Patagonian desert....fourth largest in the world. It is a wondrous and diverse area with permanent ice, rainforest, and desert all within shouting distance of each other.
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
Trails are extremely rare and where they do exist are intermittent and hard to follow. This is wild country, very unlike the numerous groomed trails thru open forest in the Fitzroy/Torre massif and the Torres de Paine to the south. Here getting to the peak is often the crux.
Forests have totally different characteristics depending on their exposure to moisture flowing in from the Pacific. A mile or two difference in location can make a world of difference in your ability to negotiate them.
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
The area is rife with unclimbed peaks due to the dearth of climbers and the difficult access. To be first to summit here calls for a climberís skills and an explorerís mentality. The objectives range from virtual walk ups to a 3,000 ft. granite face.
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
Unclimbed 3,000 ft. face
Unclimbed 3,000 ft. face
Credit: donini
I have largely had this playground to myself and every year I seek out an objective and THEN...try to find the way in.
This year my wife Angela and I worked on getting to yet another project. This mountain can be seen clearly from the Caraterra Austral (the main road, albiet dirt, in Aysen) but getting there is a different matter.
Now how to I get to that peak?
Now how to I get to that peak?
Credit: donini
We first had to seek out obscure dirt roads that would get us as close as possible with our trusty 4by4 Hilux pickup. The next question was the nature of the forest....would it be just somewhat difficult or absolutely heinous? We lucked out and found a relatively open Lenga forest that offered tricky but doable passage.
The approach to a beautiful remote valley took five hours and included several stream crossings.
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
This left us in striking distance.
Credit: donini
But I still had to get to the base and leave a cache for later in the month when my partner would arrive after guiding Aconcagua. He is 40 years younger than me so I wanted to get as much gear in place to cut down on the size of the loads when we went in together. A two day window opened up and on January fourth I went back in solo to finish the job. I hiked for five hours thru beautiful forests and the occasional bog.
Credit: donini
I then bushwhacked 1,300 vertical feet to the top of a ridge where I had previously left a cache in bad weather.
Credit: donini
This time, in clear weather, I went 300 meters further and saw spread out a thousand feet below me a broad river valley with the peak rising above. I had thought that I would need to do a long traverse to the right and then back left over several kilometers of broken glaciers to get to the climb.
Credit: donini
I scrambled a thousand feet down steep, loose scree to the valley floor and spent the night. The peak was now a steep but straightforward approach directly above me.
Credit: donini
Credit: donini
The next day dawned cloudy with light rain. Luckily, I found a way directly out of the valley without having to climb up heinous scree and over the ridge. I was lucky to see a rare Magellanic Woodpecker and the footprint of an even rarer Huemul on the hike out.
Darwinís Bread
Darwinís Bread
Credit: donini
Magellanic Woodpecker
Magellanic Woodpecker
Credit: donini
Huemul track
Huemul track
Credit: donini
Now all that remains is the arrival of my partner and a wee three day window for, hopefully, the ascent of another unclimbed peak in Aysen Patagonia.
You earn your baubles down here. Look for another TR with the rest of the story in the near future.
Get on down here...unclimbed peaks donít reproduce themselves!
Sorry about the line of photos below the main photos, donít know what to do about it....doing this from Patagonia with spotty internet.

  Trip Report Views: 4,469
About the Author
donini is a trad climber from Ouray, Colorado.


Trad climber
  Jan 8, 2018 - 04:51am PT TFPU

Gym climber
  Jan 8, 2018 - 05:10am PT

Anchorage Alaska
  Jan 8, 2018 - 05:37am PT
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:18am PT
Great photos, Jim, and a wonderful tale of exploration. I love this kind of stuff, so thanks for posting this up.


Trad climber
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:26am PT
Hey vegetable holds are legal! Stemming along the creek looks classic. Looks like good fun down there. Thanks for giving a glimpse.


Trad climber
Crowley Lake
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:27am PT
Way cool Jim. What an incredible backyard to explore. Keep sharing those photos!

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:28am PT
Man! Wish I could head down!

Trad climber
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:32am PT
Looks fantastic, great photos

  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:36am PT
The Doniniator strikes again ..... ;-)
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:40am PT
Hola, amigo! How was the fishing the other day?
"I managed to hold his attention while Jim silently approached upwind."--Marlin Perkins

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:53am PT

That was a beautiful TR.

I wish circumstances were different since I would love to be on that adventure.

Jim Henson's Basement
  Jan 8, 2018 - 07:56am PT
Thanks for the report Jim. Always glad to read about your next adventure.

I had to look up "Huemule" as well, didn't know what they looked like.

Trad climber
Red Rock
  Jan 8, 2018 - 08:11am PT
THIS is why SuperT is still the best!

Big Wall climber
  Jan 8, 2018 - 09:11am PT
beautiful peak jim, good luck with the 3 day window. im down here in natales enjoying peakbaggin, river kayaking, sport climbing, and texas hold em. would love to crash your scene up there someday and have some adventur.

been reading crouch's enduring patagonia again and just read the account of your stormlashing on cerro torre. loved your quote "survival is not assured" .

steve schneider

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
  Jan 8, 2018 - 09:17am PT
Thanks, I'm looking forward to the followup reports!! Good luck with the climb. That part of the world is amazing.


Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Jan 8, 2018 - 10:19am PT
Jim! Looks like a new first is well under way. We're hoping you get favorable weather to pull it off. Thanks for taking the time to share those wonderful photos.

Social climber
  Jan 8, 2018 - 10:23am PT
Damn that looks cool! A beautiful and diverse region...

Trad climber
portland, or
  Jan 8, 2018 - 12:12pm PT
Awe-inspiring photos Jim, as usual, complete with the perfect amount of explanatory text. Keep it up and TFPU!

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
  Jan 8, 2018 - 12:29pm PT
The stuff of fantasy.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Jan 8, 2018 - 01:43pm PT
I think Bilbo might have been there long ago,...
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 8, 2018 - 03:41pm PT
Thank you Jim,
Looks like a dream,
You are a lucky man!!

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jan 8, 2018 - 04:46pm PT
WOW! so cool!

Gym climber
Minkler, CA
  Jan 8, 2018 - 05:05pm PT
Unclimbed 3,000 ft. face
I want to climb that face to hard!!!

But I'm a cold weather climbing wuss...

TFPU, stoking the imagination

Door Number 3
  Jan 8, 2018 - 05:21pm PT
Limping Crab here's a bunch of Beta for the 3,000ft face, go get it
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Jan 9, 2018 - 12:00am PT
Gnar class 5 bush whacking
norm larson

wilson, wyoming
  Jan 9, 2018 - 05:01am PT
The real trick may be getting to have a house and truck in Patagonia to begin with.
Good luck with your adventure. Looks like fun.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Jan 9, 2018 - 05:44am PT
Wow nice job Jim. I hope the climb goes well.

Sport climber
Sonora Ca
  Jan 9, 2018 - 07:36am PT
did you leave a note in your car?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Jan 9, 2018 - 01:48pm PT
I thought it wasnít about the destination? 🤓
Looks like fun anyway you slice it.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Jan 9, 2018 - 02:23pm PT
Truly genuine fun and exploration!

Very jealous and stoked that you found such a playground!

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
  Jan 9, 2018 - 03:07pm PT
Having walked behind Jim a few times, I reckon his "5-hour approach" time mentioned in his report would be more like 10-hours - for me and most other mortals.

The year I was in Patagonia visiting the Doninis (Feb. 2016), Jim and Tad McCrea did another alpine first ascent with three days of kayak/vertical thrutching approach that was incredibly impressive - but he's said almost nothing about that climb on Supertopo.

Here's a series of pictures in which Tad's fingertip points to their summit.

Albert Kernberg

Los Angeles
  Jan 9, 2018 - 05:53pm PT
Hope to be healthy and motivated, like you, when I get closer to growing up. :-)

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Jan 9, 2018 - 06:41pm PT
Maybe next year, Jim!
(Do you take Pata newbies)????

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Author's Reply  Jan 10, 2018 - 04:26am PT
Perfect day for the climb but my partner is guiding Aconcagua and won't arrive for three weeks. Oh well....Iíll grab the wife and the fishing rod and catch dinner.

Trad climber
  Jan 10, 2018 - 09:22am PT
Its looking really sunny down there Jim. Your new project looks interesting as well.

How is the area around your cabin recovering from the fire a few years ago? Has it healed over?

Balcarce, Argentina
  Jan 11, 2018 - 07:42am PT
Bushwhackers! Good luck on your quest!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Author's Reply  Jan 11, 2018 - 05:45am PT
Yep....I caught dinner.

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Jan 11, 2018 - 05:49am PT

You know how to make one jealous.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  Jan 11, 2018 - 08:07am PT
What can one say!? the Man! - the daninasoarus- finds the "Jolly Rodger".I see "specters", ghostly faces every where.
There are a lot in those Pictures.
The Faces in the shots of the Walls. . .And the "faces in the landscape shots.

There is the cartoon Ghoul from "Ghost Busters" in the center of the other heavily forested picture. ,

So, beyond the red crested bird,
you may need to crop the right side out.(put your finger on the red spot)
to enhance the skull-face, but it is there,
(in a fierce way!)

Trad climber
  Jan 11, 2018 - 10:33pm PT

Looking forward to your trip report on and pics of your new climb.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Author's Reply  Jan 12, 2018 - 05:27am PT
Yo Tad...itís an ancient Klepper that has seen dutty in Siberia, Alaska, Baja, Belize and the Chilean Fjords.

It now appears that the track I photographed in thr TR was a Pudu not a Huemul. The Pudu is the worldís smallest deer and lives secretively in thick forests.

I saw one several years ago in the Exploradoes Valley.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Author's Reply  Jan 15, 2018 - 12:29pm PT
Nice weather, I was able to go into the Exploradores Valley rainforest and caught this slamon....yummm! Hope it's nice when my partner gets here.

Sport climber
  Jan 15, 2018 - 12:40pm PT

... living the dream...

... and in this case even eating it...
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jan 16, 2018 - 08:27am PT
Such a beautiful part of the world.
Although it wasn't a climbing trip, my friends and I recognized the lifetime of climbing potential on our trip to Aysen Patagonia 11 years ago.
We spent several days in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, hiking, exploring and wishing we were prepared to climb.
In an overcrowded world, it doesn't get much better. Beautiful and friendly people as well.
Thanks for another great trip report.

Trad climber
  Jan 16, 2018 - 10:57am PT
What size is the Pudu?
Mouse deer in India are pretty small like medium dogs

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Author's Reply  Jan 16, 2018 - 12:05pm PT
The Pudu weighs between 15 and 30 pounds. It lives in temperate rainforests. I have seen one, it ran across the road in the early morning whike I was driving into the Exploradores Valley.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
  Jan 16, 2018 - 01:54pm PT
Meanwhile briham89 and I ate dinner on Saturday in the little California town of Tres Pinos. It's near Pinnacles, where we'd been climbing for the day.

The very nice young man who was serving our table starting chatting with us about where we'd been and what we'd been doing. Not too long into our discussion, realizing that we were climbers, he (very proudly) told us about climbing at Pinnacles himself. With his grandfather... you.

It's a small world sometimes.
Jesse Wees

Trad climber
  Feb 2, 2018 - 07:15am PT
Thanks Jim! I loved this report nearly as much as this one Keep crushing!


Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Feb 6, 2018 - 05:33pm PT
odd question -- donini, when you're in Argentina, how do you get cash? do you bank with US bank, or do you have money in an Argentine bank?

follow-up question: if I go down to Chalten for 3 weeks, can I get reliably expect to be able to get Argentine pesos easily if I have US bank acct (e.g. Chase or Wells or Bank of America)?

just trying to figure out how to pay for beer and hookers