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Update: last updated on 11/11/2013.

Cerro Riso Patrón (ca. 2800m).


The Cerro Riso Patrón is located "en el culo del mundo", that would be around 49˚ 35' S 73˚ 40' W. The name remembers chilean geographer and mountain explorer Luis Riso Patrón (1869-1930) who was responsible for mapping much of the southern Andes. He was the director of the Oficina de Limites de Chile and was responsible for one of the teams that helped delineate the border between Chile and Argentina. In some places his last name is written altogether: Risopatrón, without space, but the cover of his book "Diccionario Geográfico de Chile" published in 1924 shows his last name separated in two words.

In 1957 Eduardo Klenk, Andrés Pastewski and Jorge Peterek (AR) saw both summits of Cerro Riso Patrón from the summit of Cerro Don Bosco. Unaware that these peaks had already been christened (they were not noted in the maps they had), they named the south summit after Art Gilkey, an American climber that perished in K2, and the north summit after Bernadzikienicz, a climber that died on Nanda Devi East.

It is not clear how high Cerro Riso Patrón is, nor is it clear how high its various faces are. Based on obsevations by Camilo Rada (CL) from the nearby Cerro Buracchio, it would seem that the main central summit is at most 2800 meters (he believes 2750m might be more accurate). Using the program Google Earth and comparing photos to the nearby peaks and judging the vertical gain from the ocean, the east face of that central summit would have a vertical gain of around 900/1000 meters and that the vertical gain of the west face of the south summit would be possibly close to 1200/1300 meters. This of course are nothing but very rough estimates that might be completetly off.

Many of the photos in this page are courtesy of the Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne who in the 2000s did a reconnaissance fly-by in hopes of later making an attempt that for a number of reasons never materialized. Special thanks to Thomas Faucheur and Emmanuel Pellissier.

There are two faces that seem particularly interesting, the east aspect of the Cumbre Central and the west face of the Cumbre Sur. Note that the Cumbre Sur is still unclimbed.

The highest unclimbed summit in the area is Cerro Buracchio, an appealing and challenging peak located just north of the Cordón Riso Patrón.

How to get there.

Getting to the base is surely a big part of the challenge. It would be certainly possible to do so from the east, but it is a long long ways from Paso Marconi, over 70 km. From the west it would involve hiring a boat in Puerto Natales or Puerto Edén to reach Fiordo Falcón. Although Casimiro Ferrari and partners did not have much trouble finding a route to the base it is surely far from easy. In any case to reach the base of the west face of Cumbre Sur it would seem best to come in from the south rather than directly from the west. The later would involve navigating two lakes.

Climbing History.

The main, central summit was first climbed by Casimiro Ferrari, Bruno Lombardini and Egidio Spreafico (IT) in August of 1988 via the southeast face. They reached the base from Fiordo Falcón. Also part of the team were Giuliani Maresi, Annibale Borghetti, Carlo Buzzi, Luigi Corti, and Luciano Spadaccini (IT). After the ascent they all headed east, exiting the Hielo Continental via Estancia Cristina, completing a west to east winter traverse of the Icecap.

Before Ferrari's ascent there were a number of attempts, or intended attempts. In 1970 Pedro Skvarca (AR-SI) and partners hoped to attempt it but bad weather did not allow them to even reach the base. In late 1982 a French team led by Jean Marc-Boivin made an attempt from the west but they gave up when one (or two?) of the members got hurt. The team included Jean-Louis Etienne, Dominique Marchal, Denis Ducroz, Thierry Leroy and Bernard Prud'homme. Leroy replaced Patrick Berhault who at the very last minute pulled out of the expedition. About their objective they wrote that they "wanted to conquer one of the last unclimbed fortresses in the history of alpinism, Cerro Riso Patrón, a peak only accessible by the sea." They might well be right in their assessment. Riso Patrón is definitely a unique and appealing challenge. Not many unclimbed peaks like in the southern Andes.

Around that time Carlos Comesaña and José Luis Fonrouge (AR) also traveled to the area to collect information for a later trip. When that trip did not materialize Comesaña passed on the information to Casimiro Ferrari. The letter that Comesaña sent to Ferrari in 1985 outlining everything he knew can be read here (in spanish - pdf format). Comesaña has been a tireless champion of this peak. His hope is to steer young alpinists to exploratory and remote objectives, hoping to revive a more traditional approach to alpinism. He has put together an impressive photo collection of unclimbed patagonian peaks here. For those coming from a different planet it seems pertinent to point out that Comesaña did the second ascent of Fitz Roy in 1965, via the Supercanaleta.

Comesaña points out that Cerro Gaviota, the summit imediately north of Cerro Riso Patrón Central is also unclimbed. Fonrouge and Comesaña named it after the chilean boat they used to reach Fiordo Falcón from Puerto Natales. He also believes it is unreasonable to try to reach the west face of Cerro Riso Patrón Sur from the east, suggesting instead approaching from the west, via Fiordo Falcón.

In 2009 Hervé Barmasse, Daniele Bernasconi and Giovanni Ongaro (IT) traversed the Ice Cap from east to west and took some great photos of Riso Patrón that show quite well a possible approach from the east. To see their photo gallery click the "Patagonia 2009" folder in the menu on the left of this page.

Where to find 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 Ferrari's ascent. A Spanish online version of that can be found here.

In 1983 Pierre Baudy wrote a book about the expedition led by Jean Marc Boivin. The book is called "Sur les traces de personne - Expédition Gauloise III Patagonie". It is available cheaply in Amazon and might have useful information.

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Photos (click to enlarge)

Cerro Riso Patrón - location overview

Cerro Riso Patrón from the east

Cerro Riso Patrón from the southeast

Cerro Riso Patrón from the south

Cerro Riso Patrón from the west

Cerro Riso Patrón from the west

Cerro Riso Patrón from the northwest

Cerro Riso Patrón from the east

Cerro Riso Patrón from the east

Cerro Riso Patrón from the east

Cerro Riso Patrón from the east


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