Cuatro Dedos and Domo Blanco, Torre Glacier, Patagonia
Jan 13th - Cuatro Dedos(Four Fingers): The window was only supposed to be a small one so we set our goal on a smaller tower by Torre Glacier standards, called Cuatro Dedos. To get there required walking past about ten or more other beautiful towers, which was probably one of the main reasons why it had only ever seen one or two ascents. A prominent northeasterly buttress that led directly to its summit had been on my list of things to do for a couple years, and it was finally time to attempt it.
We didn’t bother getting up when the alarm went off at 2 a.m. as the wind was blowing fiercely. When it was daylight, a casual breakfast and coffee session ensued, but conditions were still cold and windy. At 9:30, we decided we better take the gear for a walk just in case. As we strolled up the glacier scoping all the options, the winds suddenly died and the skies cleared. By one o'clock, we were roping up for the first of two mixed pitches. These would be followed by eleven long pitches of mostly finger and hand cracks, face climbing, and cryptic route finding. The climbing was excellent and sustained at 5.10 and 5.11 the entire way. We climbed the route in three blocks with the seconders following with jumars, every pitch was on-sighted, and we all got our share of cruxy leads. The summit experience under a calm starry sky at 3:30 a.m. was surreal, especially for Chris’ first in Patagonia. After a good half an hour of enjoying the moonlit views of the Hielo Sur (the southern ice cap) and all the other spires, we rappelled the route, and made it back to camp in a twenty five hour round trip. It was likely the second or third ascent of the peak by a completely virgin wall.
Summery: First ascent of “Fingerlicious” Aguja Cuatro Dedos, 5.11 b/c 500+m 13 pitches, Brazeau / Davis / Walsh
Chris on Pitch 4 of Finderlicious
Jon on pitch 7 of Fingerlicious
Crystal on pitch 10 of Fingerlicious
Jan 19th - Domo Blanco (White Dome): Once again, the next window was looking small, but this time we started in the dark for Cuatro Dedos' neighbor, Domo Blanco. Like Cuatro Dedos, Domo Blanco was ripe for new routes and its East face was also unclimbed. The glacier travel to get to there likely had something to do with it, but we found our way through the maze of crevasses, and began climbing just after it got light. Unfortunately, the sun hit the approach gully just as we started, and the rock fall began immediately. Just before making it through the danger zone, Crystal took a rock to the forehead. At first there was lots of blood, and as she caught up to Chris, another rock pegged her square in the head, splitting her helmet in two. Her and Chris continued another thirty meters to my anchor where it was safe and we could assess our situation. Going down would have been the most dangerous thing to do. Although Crystal was shaken, she felt fine and was psyched to continue. A few easy pitches above the gully brought us to the headwall and three difficult pitches of perfect splitters. These featured steep double cracks (5.11+), a corner with thirty meters of overhanging ringlocks, and short section of sideways off-width climbing. The latter two pitches required a few moves of clean aid but would likely have been 5.12+ and 5.12- free. A couple more moderate rock pitches later and we were simuling a snow and ice arête to summit. The rappelling went smoothly and we were safely back in camp, 26 hours after leaving it.
Summery: First ascent of ”Bloody Luck” East Face of Domo Blanco, 5.11+ A1 650+m, Brazeau / Davis / Walsh
Jon on the lower slabs, left of the "Bloody Luck" gully.
Chris on Bloody Luck, Domo Blanco
Chris on the "emerald pitch" - 30 meters of overhanging green camelots!
Crystal on her way to the overhanging, sideways off-width traverse.
On the rarely visited summit of Domo Blanco!