Type: Trad, Mixed, Ice, Alpine, 2000 ft, 15 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Don Whillans & Frank Cochrane, 1962
Page Views: 15,167 total · 136/month
Shared By: Flex on Oct 4, 2009
Admins: Tony Yeary, Camster (Rhymes with Hamster), Mauricio Herrera Cuadra

You & This Route

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The Whillans Route was the 1st ascent of Poincenot and the most popular route on the mountain. The route follows the line of least resistence and has 3 distinct sections; a snow ramp, a steep mixed step, and a long broken rock section.

Start with a ~30m horizontal traverse on steep snow from the bergshrund on the E. Face to gain the upward traversing snow ramp.

Once on the snow ramp, follow this for ~300m to it's end at the base of the mixed section. The ramp is ~60 degree snow/ice and can be protected with screws or rock gear on the upper wall. This section is perfect for simul-climbing.

The steep mixed section can be climbed in 1 or 2 pitches & has 3 obvious variations that all lead to the shoulder where the East and South faces meet. The original route is the right-most of the vars. and tackles a chimney capped by a roof and has some fun climbing past a few fixed pins, ~M4. The middle variation climbs steep rock on an indistinct buttress between the original route on the right and the ice gully on the left, 5.? A?.
The left variation climbs a short, steep ice gully accessed by a rock traverse, WI4?.

Once on the shoulder, traverse left towards the upper South face for ~60m. From here the route follows broken rock for ~300m to the summit. Route finding can be tricky but the general rule is the easiest line tends to go up and left. Most pitches tend to have some short, steep crack sections interspersed with some rubble scrambling. Depending on conditions some ice may be encountered as well. Close to the top, climb up to the right towards the summit. You will actually tunnel through the summit area and emerge on the North Face with an incredible view of FitzRoy. Scramble up to the right to the final belay below the summit blade. There are no anchors on the top so you must take turns on the top and downclimb to the last anchor (1st rap station).

Descent: Follow the fall line straight down from the 1st rappel for ~300m to the ledge system that leads back to the shoulder of the East and South faces. From here descend the route. Rock anchors are found on the rock wall above the snow ramp. The horizontal snow traverse must be reversed to get back to the bergshrund.


Approach the route from the high camp of Paso Superior below the east face of FitzRoy. Allow about an hour from Paso Superior to reach the bergshrund and the traverse to the snow ramp. The start of the route is obvious.


An Alpine rack with a single set of cams to #3 Camalot, a few short ice screws, a set of ice tools & crampons per person.

Fixed pieces are scattered along the route but beware of off-route junk.

The route is littered with rap anchors and gives birth to the term "tatagonia".
Michael Ybarra
on the road
Michael Ybarra   on the road
Climbed in splitter weather early December. Easy snow to fun mixed (crux), then dry rock, mostly cake with a little 5.9 every now and then. Broke a crampon leading the mixed pitch and the rope took a core shot several pitches from the top. When in doubt, move left, especially after the mixed section, way left, like a rope length. From Laguna de Los Tres and back in 24 hours. Terrible snow conditions on descent. Jan 16, 2010
The route description is very very accurate.
The horizontal traverse can be tricky in bad conditions.
After the ramp it´s correct to say that the chimeney on the right is the hardest option, the buttress in the middle (we took that way) is easy 5.8 with some rotten rock, if nobody took them we left a couple of bomber nuts, and the ice climb on the left is the better option if it´s in good conditions.
Anywhere in the route if you are climbing harder than 5.8 (beside the buttress mentioned above) you are off route. Route finding could be tricky, allways follow the path of least resistance.
This is a tall spire and Patagonia can be windy, (PD: windy=hurricane) don´t get caught, check and recheck weather reports. If in doubt there are several other shorter climbs to be done, watch your ego. you´ll love this climb. Do not leave trash and do not contaminate this unique and pristine place on earth. Enjoy Argentina. Aug 3, 2010
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
Max Tepfer   Bend, OR
Fun route. A note on the final bits of the descent: (exiting the ramp) We had beta from friends that it was possible to continue rapping fall-line and avoiding having to reverse the steep snow traverse late in the day with the prospect of overhead hazard. We opted for this and I wouldn't recommend it. The raps are very straight-foward, but at the bottom of the final rappel, you're transitioning into glacier travel underneath a potentially day-ruining serac. Probably better to deal with the shenanigans of the traverse even if you're observing occasional loose-wet avalanches. Feb 24, 2017
Two English friends and I climbed this route in 1996. We had been shut down by weather for several goes at the Fitz, so we decided this was a route we could do in a storm. It was a good approach. 24 hours round trip, 24 rappels at night while another 3 feet of snow fell. Fun times. Mar 3, 2017