9 Our exped­i­tion walked in the tracks of mis­sion­ary and adven­turer Alberto de Agostini, who was 100 years ago the first man to explore the moun­tains in Tierra del Fuego. In the year 1910 he was send to lead a mis­sion in Tierra del Fuego, and explored in the fol­low­ing years the chan­nels of the archipelago, crossed parts of the moun­tain ranges by foot and climbed sev­eral moun­tains him­self. The first exped­i­tions to Monte Sarmi­ento and Monte Buck­land he did in 1912. About the rare sight of Monte Buck­land he wrote in his notes: ” not far away, on the other side of a gorge, a sol­it­ary and massive peak rises like a gaint obelisk, that is largely veiled by clouds… In the south west face [note: from where later the first ascent happened] a small gla­cier is nest­ling close to the sum­mit. From this side the moun­tain is a bit more gentle, even though an ascent seems to be dif­fi­cult here as well.“[1]

He gave the neigh­bour­ing peak the name „Monte Sella“ (in hon­our of an italian states­man), bad weather pre­ven­ted an ascent of the moun­tain. His com­re­hens­ive travel reports, all together with his pho­to­graphs rep­res­ent an excit­ing doc­u­ment­a­tion of the people and the land­scape of Tierra del Fuego in those days.

In 1928 and 1929 the Ger­man avi­ation pion­eer Gun­ther Plüschow and his flight engin­eer Ernst Dreblow flew for the fist time across the Cor­dillera Dar­win and Monte Buck­land. The first aer­ial pho­to­graphs of this region have been made and brought to europe; the book „Sil­berkondor über Feuer­land“ [2] by Plüschow and his movie became best sellers at his time.

In 1956 and by the age of 74 de Agostini led again an exped­i­tion to Monte Sarmi­ento. On the 7th of March the team Clem­ente Maf­fei and Carlo Mauri suc­ceeded to climb the sum­mit via the south west ridge [3]. Due to extreme dif­fi­cult ice con­di­tions the moun­tain was not climbed again after­wards. Only the slidly smal­ler west peak has seen three lucky ascents until now [4,5,6].

Dur­ing the exped­i­tion in 1956 de Agostini was facin­ated by the sum­mit of Monte Buck­land when he saw him from the other side of the fjord and com­pared him due to the sim­il­ar­it­ies with Torre Muztagh, a legendary, and at that time unscaled but assidu­ously cour­ted moun­tain in the Him­alayas [7].

Again it was Carlo Mauri who organ­ised a Ragni di Lecco-​Expedition to climb Monte Buck­land in 1966. All 6 team mem­bers -Mauri, Fer­rari, Allipi, Giudici, Machetto and Pirovano- reached the sum­mit on Feb­ru­ary 6th. The route they took led them from Bahía Encanto and over the west slope of the moun­tain into a nar­row gorge onto a gla­cier and fur­ther into the south west face and up to the sum­mit [8]. The team was almost stopped by a vast crevice but Fer­rari dis­covered a small over­hang, lead­ing to the face to the sum­mit. The last 70 meters they had to climb a steep tube in the ice up to a nar­row ridge which they fol­lowed towards the South, lead­ing to the sum­mit [9].

Since the first ascent Monte Buck­land and his sur­round­ings are in a state of iner­tia. There have been a few activ­it­ies over the fol­low­ing dec­ades until now, but either they have not been ser­i­ously focused on the sum­mit or the ascent was thwarted by bad weather [10].

[1] De Agostini, A. (1924): Zehn Jahre im Feuer­land. Brock­haus, Leipzig
[2] Plüschow, G. (1929): Sil­berkondor über Feuer­land. Ull­stein, Berlin
[3] — (1957): Amer­ican Alpine Journal, Vol. 10, S. 165 – 166
[4] — (1988): Amer­ican Alpine Journal, Vol. 30, S. 178
[5] Wick­wire, J. (1996): Amer­ican Alpine Journal, Vol. 38, S. 238 – 240
[6] Gantzhorn, R. (2010): Amer­ican Alpine Journal, Vol. 52, S. 191 – 192
[7] De Agostini, A. (1958): Sfingi di ghi­ac­cio. ILTE, Torino
[8] — (1967): Amer­ican Alpine Journal, Vol. 15, S. 400
[9] Rocca, A. (1989): Cuadernos patag­onicos, Vol. 6
[10] Scott, D. (1996): The Alpine Journal, Vol. 101, S. 83 – 89
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