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By Scott Cutler
From Denver, Colorado
Apr 20, 2012
Tetons
I was curious if anyone had some information for me on Franco Argentine route on Fitz Roy. I have the topos that Rolo has up on Pataclimb. Mostly I'm concerned about the snow/ice sections. Are ice screws necessary? Or can the whole route be protected with rock gear. Also, is there much avalanche danger? I'm assuming the route is too steep. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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By Keenan Waeschle
From Bozeman, MT
Apr 21, 2012
on top of the RNWF June 2012
getting down there is the crux, i was going to be there this season but my college would've fined me 30k, not worth it.

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By Scott Cutler
From Denver, Colorado
Apr 21, 2012
Tetons
Ahh, that is quite a lot of money!

Do you know much about the specifics of climbing down there? Also, what time of year is the best? I imagine sometime during our winter. I was thinking Feb/March - ish.

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By S Denny
From Aspen, CO
Apr 21, 2012
end of november til end of feb is the general climbing season... summer

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By S Denny
From Aspen, CO
Apr 21, 2012
the climbing down there is the burliest of all... you better have a very well rounded climbing skill set (aid, ice, snow, alpine rock) and also very good mountain sense, reading weather and hazards. not really a place to learn... more of a proving ground


are there "easy" climbs in Patagonia? sure are, but they are still very full value

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By mr.dobo
Apr 21, 2012
S Denny wrote:
the climbing down there is the burliest of all... you better have a very well rounded climbing skill set (aid, ice, snow, alpine rock) and also very good mountain sense, reading weather and hazards. not really a place to learn... more of a proving ground are there "easy" climbs in Patagonia? sure are, but they are still very full value


S Denny, what routes have you climbed in Patagonia?

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By S Denny
From Aspen, CO
Apr 21, 2012
none, but i'm answering questions for a guy that doesn't even know what season to go. and don't go all internet elitist on me. i've spent lots of time with patagonia climbers

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By mr.dobo
Apr 21, 2012
S Denny wrote:
none, but i'm answering questions for a guy that doesn't even know what season to go. and don't go all internet elitist on me. i've spent lots of time with patagonia climbers


No need to get defensive.

What part of "Patagonia" have all these friends of yours climbed and what routes?

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By S Denny
From Aspen, CO
Apr 21, 2012
Why the fuck does it matter? Do you disagree with something I said?

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By mr.dobo
Apr 21, 2012
S Denny wrote:
Why the fuck does it matter? Do you disagree with somethig I said?


just confirming what is now pretty obvious. thanks.

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By S Denny
From Aspen, CO
Apr 21, 2012
Haha you sir, you are simply a fool. It's okay though, you may or may not climb in Patagonia, so your friends must think you're real cool

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By Keenan Waeschle
From Bozeman, MT
Apr 21, 2012
on top of the RNWF June 2012
stop bickering, you sound like children.

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By S Denny
From Aspen, CO
Apr 21, 2012
keenan, i kind of like you

don't ruin it

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By Keenan Waeschle
From Bozeman, MT
Apr 21, 2012
on top of the RNWF June 2012
that wasn't a diss, I guess no one here will get the inside joke. Every time one of my buddies says ridiculous shit, and I get mad (for example; it's cool if I try and fuck your girlfriend tonight, right?). he tells me to stop, you're acting like a child.

keep on keepin' on guys.

to the OP, get down to patagonia, even if you don't climb anything it'll probably be worth it.

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By Scott Bennett
Apr 21, 2012
photo by Forest Woodward
I haven't climbed the Franco, but I have descended it, and have talked to numerous folks that have climbed it.

The route is highly condition dependent. To begin with, you have to gain the bench known as La Brecha. This can often be cruxy, especially in very warm conditions, as it is made up of very loose rock. The 'shrund crossing can also be problematic.

Once on the Brecha, you need to cross the Silla, a sloping icefield. Again, depending on conditions this might be very easy or very difficult. It is certainly possible to waltz across it in aluminum 'pons, sometimes. Other times, especially late in the season in a dry year, it might be hard, ancient blue ice.

Now you're finally on the route, which seems to be a mix of clean granite, mixed icy chimneys, and snowfields. It is quite steep for such a moderate route. I have not heard of avalanche danger on the route. Again, though, in warm conditions rockfall can be a hazard. The mountains of the Fitz Roy massif are very young and dynamic, and are often held together by perma-ice. Last season (dec 2011 to feb 2012), was one of the warmest in anyone's memory.

I'm sure the route gets done without ice screws, there would often be plentiful rock pro. That said, you should probably bring some, who knows what you might find.

Other thoughts: if you're coming from more of a rock climbing background, and are determined to climb the Fitz, I might recommend a route on the North Pillar such as "Mate, Porro, y todo lo demas". While it is certainly much longer than the Franco, the climbing is likely to be more straightforward: mostly 5.10 cracks on splitter granite. The route gets ample sun (Northfacing in the southern hemisphere). There are ample bivy ledges, and I know teams that have climbed it over three or four days. The approach to "Mate" is much easier, only requiring the briefest glacier crossing, and you could potentially descend the North Pillar (via the Kearney-Knight/Cassaroto) also.

The one section that will be condition-dependent on any North Pillar route is the headwall, between the Pillar and the Summit. This can be dry 5.11 rockclimbing, or icy mixed climbing.

As for season, I guess I would recommend going earlier season for the Franco (perhaps December), and mid-late season for the N. Pillar (Jan-Feb).

Hope that helps! One more piece of advice, if you manage to get yourself down to El Chalten with plenty of gear and a stoked partner, make sure to keep your plans flexible. Talk to the locals, figure out what routes are "in", and don't get fixated on one plan. If you go for a month, you might get just one weather window, so you've got to give yourself the greatest chance of success.

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By Scott Cutler
From Denver, Colorado
Apr 22, 2012
Tetons
Thanks for the beta. This helps out a lot. Yea I'll look into that route on the North Pillar, that might be a little more up my alley. I'm hoping to make the trip down there this upcoming winter - psyched to check the area out. I've heard really good things.

Also, I enjoyed reading your trip report from the Grand Traverse. I actually did that route this past August - it is super fun!

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By Ryan Huetter
From Mammoth Lakes, CA
Apr 22, 2012
From Mountain Magazine (Bruce Carson's first clean...
I've been halfway up the Franco, and have descended it after climbing a route on the other side, and would never recommend it as a ood climbing route. Very condition dependant- needs enough snow and ice to keep many of the horrifyingly loose sections together, but not too much that you can't rock climb the sections that need to be.
When we decended it the route was a waterfall and massive loose rock sections were pulling off.
Same goes for the Brecha approach- that can often be the crux- this past season the bergshrund was a major issue for the entire season.
And the upper snowfield is not a negligible thing if conditions are hard- more than one party I know of who has only taken 1 or 2 screws for the route and for crossing the Silla has been puckered up on the "easy part".
LOTS of better climbs in the area if you aren't looking just to tick the big one, and many other suitable climbs than the France as an ascent option. This is just an opinion however, and I am in no means degrading the ascents of those who have gotten to the summit of Chalten by this or any other route.

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By Scott Cutler
From Denver, Colorado
Apr 22, 2012
Tetons
Thanks. Yea, that is probably a good suggestion to take a look at some other routes. I'm just starting to research the climbing down there, and just like most people, probably, I was initially drawn to Fitz Roy. I'll look around and see what else I can find.

FLAG


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