#6 out of 7 and only one more left on my goal of climbing new routes on all of the major summits of the Fitzroy skyline!
After an amazing streak of good weather things returned to a slightly more regular (not that there is regular pattern) for the later part of January and into early February. As mine and Kate’s trip was nearing its end I had all but given up on getting another route done this season. Thankfully just a few days before our planned departure another good little weather window appeared. After nearly 3 straight weeks of bad weathered I figured the mountains were going to be pretty plastered with new snow but for some reason they turned out to be fairly free of snow and ice.
When up on the South Face of Poincenot in early December I had plenty of time to look directly south on the north face of Innominata (also know as Aguja Rafael Juarez). Before our ascent there were only two routes (and a short variation) up the north face proper. The face is quite narrow but it appeared there would be room for another route shooting straight up the middle, well thats at least what I hoped.
We left Niponino camp sometime just before dawn (i’m sure it wasn’t to early because getting up isn’t something we are good at). The approach took a casual 3.5hrs to base, with a little bit of cramponning and post-holing required, but nothing to unpleasant. I’ve gave Kate the fist block knowing that it would keep her a bit warmer, and well, I of course ended up getting pretty cold. Our first few pitches followed Jon Walsh’s variation to Artebelleza, called Como No! The climbing was quite enjoyable and fairly straightforward. And YES, the rock was actually really good. After dealing with some shitty rock on my last two routes I wasn’t in the mood to climb any more choss.
Kate made quick work of the Como No pitches and took us to a nice ledge underneath the splitter crack the went up the steep headwall. I wish I could say I then started to dispatch of the headwall cracks with speed and grace, but no, that is not the case. I was feeling a lot less than great. Maybe it was the lack of any actual crack climbing in the last few months, or maybe it was just me being lame. Anyhow I still managed to keep the rope moving upwards though it was with a fair bit of hanging on gear.
After a few shenanigans and some off widths the climbing eased up a little bit and I was actually able to jam some amazing cracks on an amazing shield of rock. Kate was able to follow a fair bit of it free but had to resort to some bat man technique here and there. After 4 pitches the crack peter’d out and I was forced to do a large pendulum to the right to an amazing left leaning hands to finger crack, which I mostly A0’d. This brought me to a ok sloping ledge and a good spot for a block change.
The sloping ledge ran up and right to a nice left facing corner with good rock that eventually turned to a right facing corner. Great 5.10 on jugs and cracks led to another ledge and the point where we intersected Blood on the Tracks. Kate continued leading on through amazing splitters running the rope out nearly 60m.
For some reason every route we do down in Patagonia it seems to get dark on us before we are done climbing. I’m starting to think we are actually slow climbers… But hey we maybe slow but we are good at climbing at night, keeping the rope moving upwards and most importantly we are good at getting to the top. At some time way past sunset and a lot closer to sunrise Kate and I stood on top!
Like any good outing in the mountains getting down can be just as hard as going up. On our third rappel we got our second rope stuck, ended up pulling on it real hard and managed to pull of large block off. Thankfully the block exploded on a ledge just left of us by about 10ft but our second rope turned into many little piece of rope… We cut off the blown sections and continued down through the night doing shorter rappels and re-building lots of anchors. The weather was nice and we weren’t dangerously cold which kept the descent from being to painful. Just as the sun came up we reached the base of the route and our packs. A quick snack and we started the long slog back to Niponino with content smiles.
But our adventure still wasn’t over, our flights out of town were quickly approaching so we broke down camp in Niponino, shouldered our packs and started the 7 hour march back to Chalten. We arrived at 10:00pm just before closing time of our favorite restaurant, La Senyera, and gorged our selves with beer and meat! We were approaching the 45hr mark without sleep at this point and I seriously considered the option of the forced bivi in the restaurant. Though we managed to pull it together for one last 5 minute hike back to our place.
The next day involved lots of packing, selling gear, and running around town. All we wanted to do was sleep but we that wasn’t an option. We managed to get everything packed back up and our selves to the airport in time for our flight out. The next 5 days were a blur of travel… El Chalten to El Calafate to Buenos Aires to Atlanta to LAX to Ventura back to LAX to Guadalajara, MX to Mexico City to Hualtuco and finally Puerto Escondido and the BEACH!!!!
We fittingly named our route Timepo Para La Playa (Time For The Beach).
Tiempo Para La Playa, North Face of Innominata
5.10 A1, 450m (250m new)
Doubles to #4, plus #5 and maybe #6…
Descend straight down north face with two ropes.