A last New Year's Eve toast: new routes in Patagonia and Khumbu

Posted: Jan 04, 2010 11:28 pm EST

Just for the record and before unfolding a brand new climbing year, here go some new routes opened on the eve of 2009:

Patagonia: new route on Poincenot, last-minute climb on Guillomet

Summer full blast on the southern hemisphere; or at least as warm as it can get in windy Patagonia, mid-December Swiss Roger Schäli and Simon Gietl grabbed a first on Poincenot north face, proud sponsor Salewa announced. The 600 meters-long line (A3+, 6C, M5) took four days up smooth rock and mixed terrain. The route was named "Fühle dich stärker aber nicht unsterblich" ("feel stronger, but not immortal").

Colombian Camilo Lopez just checked in with greetings and news that he, Anna Pfaff and some friends grabbed a short weather window by the end of the year for Aguja Guilomet, north of Fitz Roy. We climbed alpine style and reached the summit on December 30th, to finish up our year with great success, Lopez told ExplorersWeb. Check here for Camilos video report.

Nepal: Joe Simpson's Khumbu before Christmas

Winter descending on the northern hemisphere; British climber and book writer Joe Simpson (Touching the Void ) confirmed his comeback to mountaineering with a new route on Mera Peak (6,470m). One of the most popular trekking peaks in Nepal, featuring an easy normal route up its NE glaciar slope, Simpson chose instead to climb Mera's SW face, a steep wall facing Sannu valley. Joe climbed alone, while mate Ray Delaney watched him from BC. Once on top, he walked down the normal route.

Joes new route follows a line on the right side of the face which includes some exposed pitches under serac barriers and crevasse crossings. Although technical difficulties would equate to an alpine route of around D+, Simpson feels an overall grade of TD+/ED1 is more appropriate, due to the serious risk of ice avalanche, the British Mountaineering Council reported.

Simpson named the rute In Memorian as a tribute to friends Mal Duff (died on Everest) and Ian Tattersal, who bagged the first ascent on the face via the South West Buttress back in 1986.

Italian firsts

Also in the Khumbu region, Italian guides Enrico Bonino and Nicolas Meli bagged three new mixed routes in Nov-Dec, 2009.

The 1100 meters-long Ramni Keti (WI5+ M7 5a), on Hama Yomjuma Peak (5970m) was signed end November, followed by a first ascent on a 5850m spire named Peak Khancha (in tribute to their porter) in a 600 meters long route, with difficulties up to WI6, M7, A2.

By mid December finally the Italians completed yet another first ascent, on the north face of Kajo Ri (6,189m). The 6b, M6 and A2 pitches on rock and ice took three days to overcome with the route named The Phantom of the Opera.

Story edited Jan 11, 2010: Guillomet summiteers on the image illustrating the story are Neil and Joel Kauffman.

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Camilo's mates Neil and Joel Kauffman on Guillomet summit. Image by Olov. Video-clip on Vimeo.com courtesy of Camilo Lopez (click to enlarge).
Topo of Roger Schäli and Simon Gietl's new route on Poincenot spire, courtesy of Salewa.com (click to enlarge).
Enrico Bonino and Nicolas Meli, Kajo Ris north face, and "Phantom of the Opera" route in red. Image courtesy of Enrico's website (click to enlarge).
Joe Simpson (insert) and Mera Peak SW face, courtesy of Simpson's website (click to enlarge).