Update: last updated on 24/10/2013.
Cerro Murallón is a ca. 2800-meter peak located to the west of the Upsala Glacier, inside Los Glaciares National Park. Its north, east and southeast aspects offer great established routes and inmense climbing potential.
How to get there.
From Punta Bandera, a port 100km west of El Calafate, you have to take a boat across Lago Argentino, to its northeastern tip, to Estancia Cristina, a tourist resort of sorts. From there you have two options. You can cross the Upsala Glacier further south or further north.
For the north and east face you will want to go to Refugio Pascale (3-4hs) and from there north, past Laguna Larga (2hs), to then head northwest cross the Upsala Glacier (4-5hs), traveling the south side of the glacier between Murallón and Cerro Don Bosco to reach the base (5hs).
For the southeast ridge you will want to go to Refugio Upsala (2hs), then down to the shore of Lago Guillermo (1hs), crossing right at the front of the glacier to reach the main flow of the Upsala Glacier (3-4hs), crossing it to reach the glacier between Murallón and Cerro Cono (2hs). This is best traveled on its south side (flatter) to then cross north to the base of the peak itself (5hs).
You must secure a permit from the National Park. It is advisable that you inform them via email well ahead of time (the permit is free). Also you must secure cooperation from the folks at Estancia Cristina. They might be able to help with the boat ride and also storing gear and the like.
Carrying all your kit to the base is at least half of the challenge involved in climbing the mountain. At the base, because of the exposure to winds from the west and northwest, you will want to dig a snowcave.
There are supermarkets in El Calafate with everything you might need except specialty mountain food such as bars, gels and freeze dried dinners. There you will also find propane canisters for Jetboil like stoves and white gas (solvente in spanish) for MSR like stoves.
What to bring.
Because the area is fairly remote a satellite phone could be a useful tool. Skis could be useful for the norther approach but are not useful for the southern approach. Same goes for sleds.
The purpose of this write-up is to give a quick overview of what has been done.
In January of 1961 Jack Ewer and Eric Shipton (GB), Eduardo Garcia and Cedomir Marangunic (CL) climbed from the northwest reaching the long summit crest, reaching what they thought was the highest point in the middle of the storm. The geography of the summit ridge is such that coming from the west Shipton and partners likely reached a sub-summit located before a wide gap to the east of which is the main, highest summit (Alpine Journal 1962, pages 250-258; The Land of Tempest, Eric Shipton, Hodder and Stoughton, GB, 1963).
In 1974 José Luis Fonrouge and Rafael Juárez (AR) made an attempt from the southeast (Anuario Club Andino Bariloche 1979, page 20). Juárez died barely a month later during an attempt to climb on the Cordón Adela with Eduardo Atilio Mundet.
In February of 1984 Carlo Aldè, Casimiro Ferrari and Paolo Vitali (IT) completed the first ascent of the northeast ridge (1300m 5+ A3) and the first confirmed ascent of the peak. They fixed three ropes in the crux section but otherwise climbed alpine style, completing the climb over four and a half days. An incredible ascent, well ahead of its time. Ferrari had made a number of attempts earlier, in 1979, 1980 and 1982. They rappelled the route. They christened the steep pillar part way up the face Torre Ben, in honor of Benvenuto Laritti, an alpinist from Lecco that traveled to climb all over the world. He died in 1983 when he was hit by a rock slide, the result of a falling meteorite (a great biography about him here). A long write up about the ascent, including a topo for the route, can be found here (pdf format).
In 1999 Laurence Monnoyeur and Bruno Sourzac (FR) made an attempt in the center of the east face. They retreated in a fierce storm having climbed 2/3rds of the face (90˚ A2 M5). They approached via Paso Marconi... (the scenic tour).
In October 2003 Rolando Garibotti (AR) and Silvo Karo (SI) climbed to the summit from the southwest, following a series of easy glacial tongues. This is an uninteresting climb (a cow could do it) one that could be done with skis. It was done as a consolation for not having a large enough rack to attemtp the SE ridge, their original objective.
In November of 2003 Stefan Glowacz, Robert Jasper and Klaus Fengler (DE) climbed The Lost World, a line up an obvious pillar on the far west side of the north face (1100m 6b M8). They climbed the route in a day, reaching the summit ridge, retreating without continuing on to the summit. More info here.
In November 2005 Stefan Glowacz and Robert Jasper (DE) climbed Gone with the Wind (1000m 7c+ A2), a steep line in the center of the north face. They spent several weeks working on the route, fixing 500 meters of rope, which were left in place. They reached the summit plateau from where they retreated. More info can be found here and here. A topo can be found here (pdf format).
In late 2012 Lise Billon, Francois Poncet, Jérémy Stagnetto, Jerome Sullivan (FR) and Pedro Angel Galan Diaz (ES) made the first ascent of the beautiful southeast ridge, the most appealing and striking line in the entire peak. They fixed ropes placing a porta-ledge camp one-third of the way up, and from there used the same ropes to fix the middle third, climbing the last third "alpine-style". They reached the summit plateau but did not continue on to the summit. They spent nine days on the wall, placing 15 bolts, all at belays. They named the route Pilar del Sol Naciente (1000m W6 M6 7b A1). A photo gallery here.
Where to find much more information.
Buy a copy of Silvia Metzeltin and Gino Buscaini's book: Patagonia: Terra Magica per Alpinisti e Viaggiatori (Dall'Oglio, Milano, 1987). The Italian version can be purchased through Amazon. It is an excellent book, well worth every penny. The Spanish version published by Ediciones Desnivel is of much lesser quality than the original and has many translation mistakes.
The first issue of the Cuadernos Patagonicos, published by Tecpetrol (Techint) was dedicated to the various expeditions from the Ragni di Lecco to Patagonia and that includes information from Alde, Ferrari and Vitali's ascent. A Spanish online version of that can be found here.
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