Patagonia: The Perilous Beauty


From December 2nd through December 17th, 2016, Phil Zook Friesen, Sam Morrison, and Matt Hardy attempted the Whillans-Cochrane Route on Aguja Poincentot (Trad, Mixed, Ice, Alpine, 15 pitches, 2000’, Grade IV) and the Comesaña-Fonrouge Route on Aguja Guillaumet (Trad, Alpine, 13 pitches, 1320’, Grade IV).

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We pushed to the base of the 70˚ ramp on Whillans-Cochrane route before deciding we would not be able to make the ledge above the two mixed pitches in order to Bivy.  The weather was spectacular and the views were out of this world for the three days we were attempting this route.


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Both snow and rain fell the night before our attempt at Comesaña-Fonrouge.  On the first rock pitch, I pulled off a microwave-sized boulder that broke Hardy’s ice axe in half.  Fortunately no one was injured.  I remember thinking that the climb was over, but surprised myself and my teammates by continuing to climb.  We climbed three more pitches and decided to back off near the crux 5.10b pitch due to snow and ice on the route.

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This was our team’s first time in Patagonia and we felt blessed to have gotten as far as we did on each route.  We were extremely fortunate to have had two decent weather windows in two weeks.

Many people and companies contributed to the team's success, but we would like to especially thank Pacific University, Skout Backcountry, Ocun Crack Gloves, and our partners: Brenda Zook Friesen, Ashley Borman, and Jenn Hardy.

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Phil Zook Friesen is the Outdoor Pursuits Director & Outdoor Leadership Minor Director at Pacific University

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