Cerro Piergiogio – East face
1. Cara Este
350m 70° 6a C1 M5
Jorge and Pedro Skvarca (Argentina), 17/1/1963, to a few meters below the actual summit.
Description. The route climbs an obvious line in the center of the face. Mellow ice leads to three steep rock pitches, 5, A1 and A1/6a. The last of those pitches can be climbed on the left via a difficult ice filled chimney (M7, Griffith-Sim, 2010). At the end of that section the route traverses left for 80 meters (to 65˚), climbing one more pitch (M5 or 5) to reach the base of the summit block, which is climbed by making a 15-meter rappel to gain a tight ice filled chimney (M5 or 5) on the east face.
Many of the pitons used during the first ascent were left in place. The C1 sections are climbed using these fixed pitons. The route is nothing special. The climbing is not particularly appealing but the view from the summit is.
History. The Skvarca brothers were part of a large expedition including Mario Castellazzo, Serif Pasic, Carlos Porta, and Eduardo Monelos. The ascent was completed in three days. In the last few meters the Skvarcas found a rime mushroom which they thought was unstable and therefore decided not to climb. Pedro believes they were no more than 3 or 4 meters below the summit. At the time they wrote: "...we arrive to the base of the summit of a rime mushroom which we decided not to climb after making one attempt, because we felt it was in danger of collapsing", then they continue, "...for the first time a man steps on the summit of the collosal face of Pier Giorgio". In spite of not reaching the highest point Skvarcas' ascent has been widely considered the first ascent of the peak.
Jorge and Pedro Skvarca did many first ascents in the southern Andes including, Cerro Norte, Cerro Bertrand, Cerro Kennedy, etc; as well as doing several with other partners, Jure went to climb Cerro Moyano, Cerro Cristal, Cerro Campana, Cerro Cono, Cerro Roma, Cerro Bolados, etc; while Pedro went to climb Volcan Lautaro, Gorra Blanca, Cerro Cagliero, etc. Pedro is a respected glaciologist having spent years working in the glaciers of the southern Andes as well as in Antartica.
During the ascent the Skvarcas used the fixed ropes and gear left in places by previous expeditions, most notably the expedition composed by Jorge Insúa and Carlos Comesaña, who in February 1962 managed to climb to within 200 meters from the summit. This route was attempted many times, a Club Andino Buenos Aires (CABA) expedition in 1959, a CABA-Club Andino Bariloche expedition in 1960-61, an expedition from Tucuman and CABA again the 1961-62 season.
In 2010 Jon Griffith and Wil Sim (GB) climbed the route to the end of the chimney from where they headed up and right, climbing thin ice for three pitches to reach a small summit north of the main summi (line 1.2 in the photos). In 2011 Oriol Baro (Cataluña) and Juan Canale (AR) climbed to a col on the summit ridge, north of the summit. In late 2013 Lukas Mathis (AT) and Marcel Schenk (CH) followed the Griffith-Sim line and before the ridge they headed left hoping to reach the main summit but they were stopped just shy of the summit by a five-meter rime covered slab. In 2014 Rolando Garibotti and Colin Haley climbed the last few meters to reach the highest point of the peak. From the vicinity of the Skvarcas' highpoint, at the base of a rime covered granite block, they made a 15-meter rappel to reach a chimney in the east face that in 30 meters leads to the summit.
The obvious snow cone to the south of the peak was attempted by Italians Monica Malgarotto, Alberto Rampini and Maurizio Venzo in 1987. They retreated upon reaching the ridge.
Approach. Paso Cuadrado and Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte, or from Niponino via El Boquete del Piergiorgio.
Descent. Via the same route.
Skvarca: Anuario CAB 1963 p. 63-70; Revista La Montaña 1964/5 p. 27-30, p. 39.
Comesaña: AAJ 1962 p.266, Anuario CAB 1963 p. 62-63.
Malgarotto: Lo Scarpone 1988/5 p. 6-7; AAJ 1989 p. 176; Rivista della Montagna 96 p. 13; Desnivel magazine 36 p. 17.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Cerro Piergiorgio - East face
Cerro Piergiorgio - East face