Pre­vi­ous north­face attempt in 2000

Cre­ated on Thursday, 27 June 2013 Writ­ten by Markus

Until now we were sure that Buckland´s short climb­ing his­tory was already told. But it was not! 

Invest­ig­a­tions by Cam­ilo Rada´s pro­ject “Uncharted — Cor­dillera Dar­win” revealed that there was a non-​published unsuc­cess­ful attempt of climb­ing Buckland´s vir­gin north face pre­vi­ous to our exped­i­tion! A team of well-​known Amer­ican climb­ing vet­er­ans formed by Jim Wick­wire (*1940), John Roskel­ley (*1948) and Chris Kop­czyn­ski (*1948) – all of them exper­i­enced in sev­eral not­able ascents in high alti­tudes world­wide – star­ted the small exped­i­tion in late south­ern sum­mer of the year 2000. Already five years before, Wick­wire organ­ized a suc­cess­ful exped­i­tion where Roskel­ley, Stephen Ven­ables (GB) and Tim Macartney-​Snape (AUS) made the 2nd ascent of Monte Sarmiento´s West sum­mit by a new route.

As Jim Wick­wire told us, they approached with the help of a police heli­copter dir­ectly to the west­ern foot of Monte Buck­land. Their planned route fol­lowed ramps and ledges in the lower north-​west face up towards a hanging gla­cier, and then upwards to the obvi­ous col in the north ridge (the loc­a­tion of our 2012 high camp). From there they hoped to gain access to the sum­mit head­wall although they have never found out for sure about the feas­ib­il­ity of the route above the col. From their base camp in the val­ley they got a “good view of the final few hun­dred feet, and it was very steep – eas­ily 65 degrees, if not more, for the upper sec­tion to the sum­mit ridge”.

An estim­ate which turned out to be pre­cisely accur­ate! How­ever, rot­ten and greasy rockin the lower parts, and later on hard ice made it dif­fi­cultjust to reach the col. Finally, the party had to retreat half way up the hanging gla­cier (approx. 950 masl.) without reach­ing the col. A second push was later pre­ven­ted by bad weather and lack of time. After their exped­i­tion they con­cluded that “it is no sur­prise that this moun­tain has been climbed only once.”

Thanks to the research of Cam­ilo and the con­tri­bu­tion of Jim, Buckland´s chron­icle now counts on three exped­i­tions in total: the first ascent via south-​west face in 1966, the 2000 attempt, and finally our 2012 north face ascent.The time series of pho­tos shows how the course of time impress­ively changes the aspects of the moun­tain. Gla­ciers retreat incred­ibly fast, ice gul­lies con­vert into mixed-​climb chal­lenges, icy flanks become bare (mostly bad qual­ity) rock – in most cases this means enhanced dif­fi­culties and less pro­tec­tion for climbing.

So maybe one day only winter con­di­tions will be the appro­pri­ate ones to climb Plüschow´s Queen of Tierra Fuego.

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