Exciting first ascents completed in Patagonia this season


In retrospect, probably the best day of climbing I’ve ever had — first ascent of Aguja Poincenot’s north face, 1996

I’ve got Patagonia on the brain having given Enduring Patagonia’s Winter West Face slide show to the Rock, Ice, Mountain Club in Santa Rosa last night, and this morning, I’m seeing reports from several exciting new routes recently completed in the Fitzroy/Cerro Torre massif — my favorite mountain range on earth. I spent a significant portion of the 1990s in those mountains. Without doubt, those are some of the best times I’ve ever had, even if they sometimes feel like they happened to someone else.

I’d forgotten how much fun giving a slide show can be. The club turned out a good crowd, and they seemed excited and inspired with the vision of Patagonia — as was I. The energy was contagious, and I had a hard time winding down after I got home. Met a lot of great people, too. I tacked a dozen photos from China’s Wings (which is available for preorder) on to the end of the show and was happy to sense the enthusiasm with which they were received.

Jim Johnson’s mother, Blanche Christina Tenney, in Shanghai in 1938, courtesy of Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson was one of the climbers who turned out last night. Turns out his mother did a bunch of her growing up in Shanghai during the 1930s. I love that sort of coincidence, and Jim just guided me to Tess in Shanghai, the website of Tess Johnson, a writer who has written extensively on the great city of Shanghai.

But back to the climbing, here are links to the new routes completed thus far this season in Patagonia. Doesn’t look like the range is even close to climbed out yet, and I’m glad to see people finding the same quality of adventure I enjoyed down south in that other lifetime.

First, there’s a new route completed on the SW face of Aguja Poincenot by Jens Holsten, Joel Kauffman, and Mickey Schaefer… lots of good photos and accompanying story on Kauffman’s blog… The route is on the opposite side of the mountain from the Old Smuggler’s Route, which Jim Donini and I did on Poincenot’s North Face in the photo above.

Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk knocked out The Gentlmen’s Club on Aguja de la S, describing the line as “Royal Arches to Astroman,” two of Yosemite’s better routes, one easy, one hard. With a hell of a lot better view, I might add.

Third comes a super-impressive looking new line on Torre Egger, one of the “Seven Real Summits,” as it’s likely the hardest mountain to climb in South America, and probably entire the Western Hemisphere. Completed in a two-day push by Norwegians Bjorn Eivind Ortun and Ole Lied, it looks absolutely spectacular — and totally desperate. Here’s a brief summary posted by Rolando Garibotti on Pataclimb.com, by far the world’s best source for Patagonian climbing information.

Way to go, guys! Heartfelt congratulations.

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