Cerro Marconi Central (ca. 2380m).
The group of mountains that close the Electrico valley are called Cordón Marconi and were christened by Alberto Maria De Agostini in honor of the Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), an Italian electrical engineer who was partly responsible for the development of wireless telegraphy and was also the President of the “Regia Accademia d’Italia”, which partly supported De Agostini’s expedition. The river that flows down valley from those peaks that are named after an electrical engineer was fittingly named Rio Electrico.
The first to view these peaks were the members of the 1916 Buenos Aires Sociedad Cientifica Alemana expedition, led by Alfred Kölliker, who during the first ever traverse across the Hielo Continental were able to see the western flank of what later became Cordón Marconi. More practical and less eager to celebrate European heroes and sponsors than De Agostini, they named the mountain after its likeliness, calling it Cerro El Cajón (box peak) after the square shape that Marconi Central has when viewed from the west.
The Marconis suffer the same fate that most non-granite peaks succumb to in this area, which is that they receive little to no attention. There have been a number of ascents of Marconi Norte, two ascents of Marconi Central and Marconi Sur has but one ascent. This happens in the Paine massif as well, where beautiful Paine Grande has only had three ascents in 60 years, while well trodden routes on the North Tower get a handful of repeats per year.
In January of 1966 Argentines Edgard Köpcke, Avedis Naccachian and Enrique Triep climbed the west face to somewhere in the vicinity of the summit mushroom from where they retreated, without standing on the actual summit. They were part of an eight-man expedition. Naccachian had made an attempt one year earlier with a team lead by Carlos Rey.
Kopcke and crew approach via Paso Marconi and from the west climbed easy snow slopes leading to the ridge just north an obvious big black headwall (the “box” that Kolliker et al had named the peak after). The headwall is 300 meters tall and involved moderate rock climbing (to 5), leading to a delicate traverse under the summit mushrooms one of which was overhanging and forced the team to retreat. In all they climbed 700 meters (to 60º and 5) making 15 rappels to descend.
In late 2013 Colin Haley (US) with Rolando Garibotti (AR) made an ascent of Marconi Central from the east, climbing the obvious ramp that slashes across the east face. They encountered difficulties to 70˚ and M3, climbing the route in five very long pitches and descending in about 12 rappels. They found a lot of rime in the summit ridge which they downclimbed (100m to 65˚). The rock, although granite, is of fairly poor quality and the climb is only worth it as an ice climb. In dry conditions it would be an ugly and dangerous line. Haley named the route "La Superwhillans", a name that refers to the classic Whillans-Cochrane route on Poincenot and that is a play on words with the name Supercanaleta. Because of an injury suffered earlier in the route Garibotti stopped just shy of the summit, not climbing the last 20 meters, a short "hike" between two mushrooms. In all the route climbs around 600 meters of vertical gain. A repeat requires 6 to 8 pitons, one each Camalots to #2 including TCUs, stoppers, one or two icescrews.
Haley and Garibotti approached by traversing horizontally to the base from a point just below Paso Marconi. There is serac fall danger in this approach. During an attempt in September 2013, carried out solo and in winter, Haley approached from below, climbing a snow gully that cuts the broad rock buttress that is below the glacial plateau at the base of the route. During that attempt Haley found the route snow-covered, with little ice, so he retreated after two pitches. Haley had also made an attempt in 2012.
One day after Haley's ascent Iñaki Coussirat and Carlos Molina (AR) repeated the route approaching via the same buttress that Haley used during his winter solo attempt.
Anuario CAB 1967 p. 48-49 p. 120; AAJ 1967 p. 402-403.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Cerro Marconi Sur and Central - east
Cerro Marconi Central - west face
Cerro Marconi Norte and Central -