Winter New Route on Monte Sarmiento in Tierra del Fuego

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The new route on the north face of Monte Sarmiento in far southern Patagonia.

The new route on the north face of Monte Sarmiento in far southern Patagonia. Photo by Marcelo Arevalo / Courtesy of Camilo Rada.

The Argentinian-Chilean pair of Natalia Martinez and Camilo Rada have completed a winter ascent of Monte Sarmiento in far southern Patagonia by a new route on the north face. This was only the second climb of this beautiful rime-covered mountain's highest peak in 57 years.

Though only about 7,240 feet tall, Monte Sarmiento rises directly from the sea in storm-blasted Tierra del Fuego, at the west end of the Cordillera Darwin, just 100 miles or so north of Cape Horn. The main summit was first climbed by Italians Clemente Maffei and Carlo Mauri in March 1956, who ascended the southwest face after unsuccessfully attempting the north face. (The Italian expedition was led by 74-year-old Padre Alberto M. de Agostini, who first attempted Sarmiento in 1913!) The lower western summit was climbed in 1986 by another Italian expedition, and again by an international team, including American John Roskelley, in 1995, and by a German team in 2010.

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Gorgeous Monte Sarmiento from sea level. The north face is prominent in upper left. Photo by Alfredo Soto.

Martinez and Rada traveled to Tierra del Fuego as part of a larger scientific and exploratory expedition. From a high camp, they crossed glaciers to the foot of the ca. 1,300-foot north face and climbed it to the summit in eight pitches of ice climbing. They returned to high camp after a 30-hour push. The new route is called Suerte de Sarmiento.

The southern cross rising over the summit from camp.

The southern cross rising over the summit from high camp. Photo by Camilo Rada.

Many photos are available at the expedition website.

Dates of ascent: August 24-25, 2013

Sources: Camilo Rada, Expenews.com, American Alpine Journal