Aguja Poincenot: Whillans – Cochrane
Tad and I returned to el pueblito for some good food and story swapping with friends after climbing Aguja Guillaumet via the Amy Route. We felt super fortunate that it looked as though another 3 day weather window was opening. This being the case, we departed the following day for Paso Superior for a go at the Whillans – Cochrane on Aguja Poincenot. The route goes at 5.9, AI3, M4, 2000 ft.
We arrived at Paso Superior with light packs given that we had made a cash at the pass after our climb on Aguja Guillaumet. The temperatures were quite warm at the pass during the afternoon of our approach. We hoped the ramp would harden up during the night for easier and more speedy climbing in the morning. The night was calm, and pretending to read in my sleeping bag, I wondered what it would be like the next day – the condition of the ramp, the mixed climbing, the route finding to the summit, we would be rappelling all night? I had never climbed any thing so big in one push, How fast would we move?
The alarm beeped at 1:00am and we began. At the base of the route we had a moment of hesitation. It was to be a warm day, and our concern was with the descent of the ramp considering late afternoon temperatures. At one point we both stood there looking around, not knowing the answer. I whipped out some chocolate and we talked it out. If we reached the ramp in late after noon during the descent, we would just wait at the shoulder for cooler temps. It was done, and we began to navigate the bergschrund to the ramp. on the ramp,we encountered good snow and ice conditions quickly making it to the mixed Chimneys. The chimneys hold real mixed climbing on great stone and awesome cracks to place cams and picks. After the second pitch, we went right, which I now know is not the “right” way. But we found M4 climbing all the same. Once at the shoulder we switched to rock shoes for the 8 fun pitches to El Cumbre. It was totally magical. We began to rappel from the summit around 6:30 pm and reached the shoulder above the mixed chimneys at dark. Then we rappelled through the night !!!
I felt very strongly the bond of partnership that night rappelling the rock, ice, then finally over the bergschrund to the comfort of the glacier. I never forgot that it was just the two of us out there going for it, and it was incredible. Some people get stoked on solo ascents of scary routes. I would have to agree that they are bold, even genius in there self reliance. But for now I am content with sharing my experiences in the mountains with great people. Inspiring people. In this way, the memory is not simply mine to cherish, it is shared. And if there is one thing that I walked away from my time in Chile and Argentina with, it was the realization that to share is to fulfill at least one of our true purposes here on this floating sphere.
We stumbled back into camp 26 hours after leaving . We both passed out at camp for a couple hours and made it back to Chalten by mid afternoon for some giant hamburgers!!!
A big thanks to my larger than life friend and ever exuberant partner Tad McCrea
Tad put together a VIDEO of the climb Here