cuernos del paine near torres del paine
The Cuernos del Paine, adjacent to Patagonia's Torres del Paine; (photo/Shutterstock, Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH)

‘Cuarzo Menguante’: Trailblazing Climbers Notch Another First Ascent in Patagonia

Fresh off their first ascent of Patagonia’s last unclimbed peak, Pepo Jurado and Sebastian Pelletti claimed another impressive line in the Torres del Paine massif.

The crack system that makes “Cuarzo Menguante” possible looks straightforward enough. According to the 2,300-foot route’s first ascensionists, the route took resolve and creativity.

Jurado and Pelletti’s “Cuarzo Menguante” (5.11+ A2) is the third route on the east face of “La Hoja” (English translation: “The Blade”). The jagged feature cuts the skyline in Patagonia’s Cuernos del Paine, a chain of 6,500-plus-foot outcrops that guards the better-known Torres del Paine to the southwest.

The new route did not come easily. The two climbers appear to have expected to summit in a day; instead, they sat through a night on a ledge several pitches below the ridgeline after finding sustained hard climbing.

Freezing Night, ‘Eternal’ Sunrise

“The ascent was incredible, nails climbing and a lot of route finding was necessary to put the line together,” Pelletti told Planetmountain. “At one point, I aided up a small seam as the crack system sealed up. Night fell a few pitches short of the ridge, and we laid out our ropes to sit on.”

Pelletti said he and Jurado “shivered” through the night and experienced a sunrise he called “eternal.”

After “defrosting” their toes, they continued up and topped out the route on Jan. 28.

 

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The team’s photos bring the climbing difficulties into focus. Complex broken granite systems lead up consistently steep terrain; their ropes zig-zag through the vertical puzzle.

The climbers said La Hoja was their original Torres del Paine objective for the trip. Pelletti reported they had first tried to climb the big face several years ago, but harsh weather shut them down. Bad conditions again prohibited climbing on La Hoja at the start of their trip this year, forcing them instead to the first ascent of Cuerno Este.

“Cuarzo Menguante” is the third route that accesses the La Hoja summit ridge. To descend, Pelletti and Jurado rappelled and replaced anchors on the neighboring “Anduril.”

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Sam Anderson
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Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.