Patagonia 2012 and the remote peak of Cerro Mariano Moreno (3490m)

Way to the west of the great southern Patagonian Icecap, lies the great bulk of the Cordon Mariano Morena massif. The reigning summit of this complex peak is Cerro Moreno at 3490, the third highest peak in Patagonia. On our next expedition to the icefield in November 2012 we hope to be making this rarely climbed peak an objective.

The climb will be via a northerly approach to the NE ridge and will involve much glacier travel and a complex approach. The summit (49° 19′ S; 73° 25′ W) lies almost 2000m above the icecap and some 25km south west of Paso Marconi. Anybody interested? Contact me.

The photos below were taken of the mountain from our last expedition to the Patagonian Icecap in November 2011. In the shots the range is about 25km away and 2000m above the icecap!

Cordon Mariano Moreno from the SW

Morning sun on the range from Cirque de los Altares

Our exact itinerary for the trip has yet to be finalised in full. We have a draft itinerary below

Day 1 – Arrival El Calefate airport. Transfer to El Chalten (3hrs).

Day 2 – Day in El Chalten buying food and provisions. Team meeting and discussion. Visit National Park Office. Get passports stamped and authorised by Gendarmerie. Tent erection practice in high winds!

Day 3 – Private transport to trailhead at Rio Electrico. Walk to refugio at Piedra del Fraile (Los Troncos) through fine woodland and riverside scenery. Level, sheltered and good, clean water available.

Day 4 – Move up to “La Playita” campsite by the side of Lago Electrico. Cross some small hills and then the Rio Pollone before it becomes in spate. Over an awkward section of loose terrain and a headland before dropping down to sheltered camp by lake. Great views up the Pollone valley to Fitzroy NW face and Cerro Pollone.

Day 5 – Big day. 1000m ascent to the Icecap via the Marconi Glacier and Paso Marconi. From camp we rise to the base of the Marconi glacier via a loose section of old moraine. Then we get onto the easy lower glacier and cross a medial moraine before reaching the base of the Seracs. From here the ground steepens until we top out on gentler terrain leading slowly and inexorably towards the Paso Marconi. This section is mentally tough and the winds are usually strong as the Marconi pass becomes a funnel for the winds coming from the west. On reaching the slight decline onto the campo de Hielo Sur some relief is felt. We set up our snow walls and tents on the icecap.

Day 6 – West out on the icecap towards Cerro Moreno. Base camp in the valley N of summit. Long day of glacier travel.

Day 7 – Move to high camp below NE ridge

Day 8 – Summit day- up to the NE ridge and follow to summit. Return to base camp.

Day 9 – Traverse southwards on the icecap to the Cirque de los Altares. A relatively gentle day with superb views if clear. The feeling is one of being at sea and it is difficult to get a sense of scale. The views open up and the Cerro Torre group with Fitroy behind come into view. We make our campiste at the entrance to the cirque.

Day 10 – Southwards again coming off the icecap at the head of the Viedma Glacier. A difficult section follows crossing the constantly changing moraines past Laguna de Esquis. Camp at a bivouac site near to Lago Ferrari below the Paso del Viento.

Day 11 – We traverse to the base and then steeply up to the Paso del Viento. Then it’s down towards the Tunel Glacier with marvellous views northwards towards Cerro’s Grande and Solo. We cross the lower Tunel glacier and then loose moraines before eventually dropping down to a sandy campsite alongside the tranquil Lago Toro.

Day 12 – Next day walk out to El Chalten. After crossing the waist deep Rio Toro, we have a 16km walk out with a 500m ascent along the way. Great views along the way though, over to the turquoise Lago Viedma and back to Fitzroy and Cerro torre. We encounter green forests and fields of flowers, a contrast after the white of the icecap. We drop down to El chalten for a welcome return to civilisation!

Days 13 & 14 – spare days in case of bad weather. El Chalten

Day 15 – Bus to airport at El Calafate. Flights home

Sunset over Cordon Mariano Moreno

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