Patagonien – unberührte Täler und endlose Granitwände

Patagonia - unspoilt valleys and endless granite walls

And here we are, in Patagonia, at the foot of Cerro Torre, with probably the best weather window of the season ahead of us. But before I take you on this indescribable tour, I'll tell you how it came about that we were allowed to venture into this gigantic ice wall in the first place.
Amelie, Franz and I are good friends and formed a three-rope team for our big dream together, a climbing trip to Patagonia.
We set off on 1 January 2024. We started in Chile in the Cochamó Valley, a still relatively unknown valley with granite walls up to 800 metres high with perfect crack systems that make climbers' hearts beat faster.

Everything had to be planned in detail for three weeks in advance. There was nothing except a few tent pitches run by a campsite. No internet, no catering. We calculated food and equipment for three weeks in this valley and marched together with two horses to help us carry our luggage. The maximum pack load of the horses was also measured very precisely so that none of the animals had to carry too much.

Surrounded by massive granite walls, we were completely on our own. From the valley, where we had our tent and all our supplies, we went up to the bivouacs, where we spent two to five days. From there, most of the climbing tours could be reached within a few hours. In the bivouacs we made countless new friends with people from all over the world. Nevertheless, we are sure that they will last a lifetime.

In the first week, we familiarised ourselves with somewhat easier and less long tours. But it soon became clear that these also presented some challenges. It was only after a few tours that we learnt to stand cleanly on these extremely rough granite slabs, while our hands found themselves in perfect cracks and on the smallest ledges. As we slowly got used to the special climbing style, we were then able to carefully approach our dream tours in this valley. For example, we managed the tours Alcentro Y Adentro, Todo Cambia - in which a good friend of ours was involved in the development -, No Hay Hoyes, E.Z. does it, Mister M and many other great tours.

After these three weeks, we packed our bags and travelled on to Argentina, more precisely to Frey. Frey is known for its many rock towers and rock needles in a fantastic landscape. In our opinion, the tours in Frey are very alpine, not always easy to belay and rated very, very hard in terms of difficulty. In any case, our highlight was the Imaginate route up the Aguja Campanile. A dream tour with incredibly great, varied pitches.

What we will also remember about Frey is the story of the dried mushrooms. One morning, a group of friends moved on and left us some food. They had a bag of dried mushrooms with them, but they had only been given them as a gift. That very evening, Amelie, Franz and I created a new dish called polenta condor - with all the mushrooms. A few hours later, we all got severe stomach pains and I felt so bad that I briefly lost consciousness. So, dear readers: ‘Hands off dried mushrooms of anonymous origin and unknown age that have been passed on several times.’

El Chaltén
Time flew by, but we had another major destination on our travel list: El Chaltén.
Our team worked really well. Now there was only one thing that could stand in our way - the weather. The previous climbing season in El Chaltén had been very difficult in terms of weather, with only a few windows of good weather. But luck was on our side here too. When we reached El Chaltén on the seventh of February, we were told that there would finally be a good weather window of 2-3 days. We didn't hesitate for long and planned a suitable tour to the Aguja Guillaumet on the Fitz Roy chain.
In El Chaltén, it is important to adapt the tours to the weather. The Windy and Meteoblue apps are particularly recommended for this. A special feature of Patagonia is the unpredictable wind, which must be factored into the tour planning. We then used the weather window for the Comesana Fanrouge route to the Aguja Guillaumet, a perfect first tour for us in El Chaltén. We abseiled down via the ascent route and little wind was forecast. However, when it got dark during the abseil, the wind picked up strongly and caused us some difficulties with the rope. This was a warning sign for us to plan and act even better. We reached our tent at the foot of the mountain safe and sound at 02:30 in the morning.

Back in El Chaltén, we were told that there was still a two-day window of good weather ahead.

We were so motivated that we wanted to take advantage of it again. Full of euphoria, we planned a long tour via the Route Italiana to the Aguja Saint-Exupéry. One day for the ascent, one long day for the mountain and one day with worse weather for the descent into the valley.

After the previous day's long ascent to the bivouac at the foot of the glacier, Amelie and I set off at 02:30. The Italiana route has a wall height of 700 metres, steep sections of up to 60 degrees and climbing passages up to difficulty level 7a (French). A very alpine route where many facets of alpinism have to be mastered. Once we had negotiated the difficult bergschrund from the glacier to the rock face, we climbed the first 250 metres (approx. five pitches) on a running rope. Then we had to change shoes for the second time, this time from climbing shoes back to mountain boots with crampons. After overcoming the ice flank in two pitches, we were now faced with the key pitch in the rock - a crack rated 7a. It went well and we made excellent progress. We really cruised through the next five pitches up to 6c. Some of the cracks were icy and creativity was required.

Then came some easier lengths in the rock and some steeper passages in the snow, until we reached the summit of Aguja Saint-Exupéry at exactly 7.30 pm.

What a feeling, what an achievement! It was a long and hard way to the summit. We both agreed that this tour was one of our alpine highlights.

One last awe-inspiring view of the Cerro Torre mountain range opposite before we abseiled our way back down. Six and a half hours later, at 01:50, we found ourselves on the glacier in complete darkness and at around 04:30 Franz welcomed us at our bivouac with a delicious hot soup. This tour pushed us to our mental and physical limits. It takes days to process such intense experiences as a tour like this. But that's exactly the beauty of it. Especially when you have such a tour ‘in the bag’.

The next morning we hiked back to El Chaltén with the thought that we'd had a great time here, but that we probably wouldn't be able to do another tour before we had to leave this beautiful place again.

But, things turned out differently than we thought...