Brilliant New Route in Remote Patagonia

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A French-Argentinean quartet has climbed the direct east face of Cerro Riso Patrón, making only the second ascent of this Patagonian peak in 37 years.

Lise Billon, Antoine Moineville, Diego Simari, and Jérôme Sullivan climbed Hasta las Wuebas (1,000m, ED- WI5 M5 90°) in two and a half days, finding great ice and mixed climbing and typical Patagonian rime. But the ascent represented only a portion of the difficulties on this extremely remote mountain.

To reach the peak, the four climbers took a ferry for 400 km (250 miles) to Puerto Edén, a fishing village said to be the most isolated town in Chile. They then hired a smaller boat to transport them another 80 km to a landing where they could start the approach on foot. The climbers had hoped to attempt the huge west face of unclimbed Cerro Riso Patrón Sur, but icebergs prevented them from landing where they’d planned. Instead they hiked and snowshoed 16 km around the north side of Riso Patrón to reach the foot of the east face. This approach took two and a half days, and they completed only two pitches of the route on the third day. Two more long days took them to the top. (A photo of the route line and a full history of attempts on the peak can be found at Pataclimb.com.)

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This was the second year of attempts in the Riso Patrón group for Billon, Moineville, and Sullivan. In 2014, they and Martin Elias tried to reach the west face of the south peak from Fiordo Falcón, but after rafting across two lakes and climbing the glacier leading to the mountain, Sullivan fell in a crevasse and dislocated his shoulder, forcing an end to the expedition.

In 2012, Billon and Sullivan, along with François Poncet and Jeremy Stagnetto, completed one of Patagonia’s most beautiful first ascents: the stunning southeast ridge of Cerro Murallón. Last year, Billon, Sullivan, Stagnetto, and Pedro Angel Galan Diaz completed two difficult new routes in the Revelation Mountains of Alaska.

Cerro Riso Patrón’s main summit was first climbed in 1988 by an Italian team led by Casimiro Ferrari, one of the most successful climbers in Patagonian history.