Jasper climbs Chilean Shark's Fin

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 08/05/2012
From left to right, Jasper, Heller and Gantzhorn on the summit of Sarmiento in 2010. Ralf Gantzhorn

In April Ralf Gantzhorn, Jorg Heller and Robert Jasper climbed the west ridge of Monte Giordano in Tierra del Fuego's Cordillera Darwin, completing the second major ascent in the area this year.

The German trio reached this region by chartered yacht, having sat out a violent storm on a lonely island part way through the journey.

The bay chosen in advance for their proposed anchorage proved too dangerous, and eventually the boat was tied securely to a cliff to prevent it being damaged by storms.

The three climbers then made a typical Tierra del Fuego approach, bushwacking through dense rain forest and open swampland. Foul weather, for which is area is renowned, prevented them establishing a base camp at the foot of the peak, and the team had to operate from the yacht.

These three knew what to expect: in 2010 they'd climbed a new route on Monte Sarmiento at the western end of the Darwin, perhaps the most famous peak in this little visited range.

Their first attempt on Giordano failed: Heller cracked a rib, which made the rest of the trip rather less than comfortable. However, three days before the scheduled departure, they got a weather window and made a rapid ascent of previously unclimbed summit, reaching the topt shortly after midnight in bright moonlight, and returning to the boat in a 27-hour round trip.

The spectacular shape of the ice-encrusted west ridge led the three climbers to name it Shark's Fin Ridge. Maximum difficulties were M7.

On their maps Giordano has an altitude of 2,042m, but a GPS reading on the summit recorded 1,517m, a significant 500m drop on the previously accepted height.

Giordano lies east-southeast of Monte Buckland (1,746m) in the western Cordillera Darwin, southeast of Isla Dawson.

Until this year Buckland had only one ascent, in 1966 by the strong Italian alpinists and Patagonian activists Alippi, Ferrari, Guidici, Machetto, Mauri and Pirovano, from an expedition led by Carlo Mauri.

These Italians approached via the southern Agostini Fjord and made the first ascent via the southwest ridge.

Earlier this year Daniel Gross, Markus Kautz and Robert Koschitzki from Germany made the long awaited second ascent, this time approaching from Fitton Bay to the north and climbing the northeast ridge and northeast face (D), with a crux pitch of WI4 90°.

This team managed to set up a high camp at 1,100m, and later in the expedition were able to make the first ascent of nearby Monte Niebla (1,430m) via the northeast face.

There is still huge potential for climbing virgin peaks and fine ice/mixed lines in the Cordillera Darwin but a fully justified reputation for lengthy spells of poor and often violent weather has kept activity to a minimum.
 



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