Aguja Poincenot - East face
550m 5+ 70° M4
Don Whillans (UK) and Frank Cochrane (Ireland), 31/1/1962.
Description. The route follows the obvious left leaning snow ramp that cuts across the east face, after which you turn to the upper part of the south face. The main difficulties are concentrated in the two mixed pitches at the end of the ramp. From there easy rock (4 top 5+) leads to the summit. It is a very fine alpine route, that can be easily climbed in a day from Paso Superior.
History. The first ascentionists were part of an Irish expedition including Francis Beloe, Clive Burland, George Narramore and Tony Kavanagh. Whillans was the token Brit in the trip. In January 17th Whillans and Kavanagh fixed ropes on the snow ramp and reached the shoulder. They attempted the route twice before Whillans and Cochrane went for it, with Whillans leading all the way to the summit. Winter Ascent. Brits Jim Hall, Andy Kirkpatrick, Nick Lewis and Paul Ramsden the 14/7/1999. They completed the ascent in a 24 hour push from and to Paso Superior, and almost ended up descending the south face when, in a growing storm and in the dark of the night they were unable to fix their location and rappelled past the shoulder at the top of the snow ramp, but realized their mistake in time to climb back up to the safe and easy descent of the Whillans. This mistake was made in 1994 by a Spanish and a Canadian climber, who rappelled past the shoulder and were forced to descend to the Torre glacier in climbing shoes and with not much gear. After several bivouacs they returned safely to Rio Blanco camp. Solo Ascents. Michael Messner (Austria) in 1988; Miroslaw Smid (Czech Republic) in 1990; Andy Parkin (UK) in 1993 and several more since.
The descent down this route has claimed several lives. It is unclear why, because it is a reasonably safe descent. In 1989 Hungarian Joseph Barta rappelled off the end of his ropes. The following year Argentines Sebastian Pavesi and Eduardo Czar fell to their death when their rap station pulled off.
Approach. Paso Superior and Glaciar Piedras Blancas Superior.
Descent. Descend via the same route. Some parties have descended the more direct Patagonicos Desesperados, but this requires a fair bit of trickery and experience.
First ascent. Alpine Journal 1962 p. 236-242; Craft Magazine 1968/81 p. 18-22; AAJ 1962 p. 265; Whillans D. (1971) Portrait of Mountaineer, Heinemann, London (p. 206-214).
Winter ascent. Climbing Magazine 189 p. 30; High Magazine 203 p. 86; Climber Magazine 11/99, p. 42-49.
Parkin. High Magazine 129 p. 10; AAJ 1994 p. 184.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Aguja Poincenot east face
Aguja Poincenot south face
Aguja Poincenot southeast face