Last week there was yet another good weather window in the Chalten Massif. However, the window was unfortunately immediately proceeded by a torrential storm, and wet conditions thwarted many climber’s attempts. Sarah and I hiked into the Torre Valley with our sights set on some lower summits, that fortunately accumulated less snow during the storm.
On the last day of February we climbed El Mocho via the first ascent route, the Bridwell-Staszewski. Although Sarah and I have very similar rock climbing abilities, my wealth of alpine-climbing experience generally makes me a bit more efficient in the mountains here, and since speed is critical in Patagonian climbing, I generally do most of the leading when we are alpine climbing together here. So, having been a lead-hog recently, when we finally headed up an objective where we could afford a slightly more relaxed pace, it was time to return the favor, and Sarah led us up El Mocho.
Most people who climb on El Mocho don’t bother trying to reach the summit, because they can’t be bothered to carry their alpine-climbing equipment up the rock pitches. However, the summit ridge of El Mocho has some of the best views in the massif, so we carried up the boots, crampons and ice axes that let us reach the summit. We descended via a direct variation of the Bridwell-Staszewski, the Via Benitiers, which can be easily rappelled with a single 60m rope, by the way.
After a rest day in Niponino, we attempted Aguja Bifida via the northeast buttress, but got off-route early on. We eventually joined the correct line about halfway up Bifida, but had wasted too much time on tricky pitches, and bailed a few pitches after joining the correct route.
The summit of El Mocho. The last time I climbed El Mocho (in November 2007) the highest point was on the snow – this time it was the rock at the very western point of El Mocho. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, within the next ten years, the summit of El Mocho becomes just a bare rock slab, like the summit of Aguja Desmochada is now.