Domo Blanco 2019

Domo Blanco has arguably one of the best viewpoints in the Chalten Massif. Ever since I saw a photograph taken from its summit I wanted to climb this mountain. Back in 2014 I made my first trip out to the Marconi valley. The climb looks deceiving, it looks like it should take far less time than it actually does. On that first excursion we barely made it a third of the way. I had no idea what I was doing, I was using blunt glacier crampons, not only was my equipment inferior but I was also way out of my depth. 

Stood on the summit of Domo Blanco with the west face of Cerro Chalten behind

I made a total of five attempts before I was successful in my bid to climb Domo Blanco. During the very last weather window before I left for Europe I got my chance to climb. We can see here the weather was forecasting perfect conditions:

 

The day before we were to set off I pulled something in my back. This happened in my cabin for no reason. Perhaps I was anxious, I’ll never know what caused it, but I was in a lot of pain. I made the decision to go and just put up with the pain as best I could. As long as I was stood up I was ok, but I’d soon discover I needed help just to put my boots on! This injury continued to trouble me long after I returned to Europe. I think I took at least 8 weeks to recover from it.

 

The hike to the base of the climb begins at Punta Electrico
We camp directly on the glacier

It’s about 14 miles to the point where we camped on the glacier. We were without a stove but fortunately managed to find some meltwater. That night we met another group of climbers including one guy from Scotland Scott Becker this group would go on to climb Cerro Rincon which is another peak that is on my dream list. It’s not a particularly technical climb, though for me it is quite intimidating. This photograph of Scott’s shows the insane view from the summit.

During the night the wind rose steadily, between the pain in my back and the rising howl of the wind I had no sleep whatsoever. Then suddenly at about 4.00am the wind died down. I knew we would be starting our climb in darkness, I knew we would have no moon as the moon was in new moon cycle. Despite this I never expected to have so little light, I thought we’d still be able to see the vast wall of Piergiorgio, but it was so dark we couldn’t see the route to the base of the climb.

The night before my climbing partner Mauro had talked about taking a different route up to the base of the climb. I thought it madness to risk a potential problem trying a new route to the base rather than just going the way I knew worked. Mauro had never been here before so he was relying on my route finding to get us to the base. In the dark I simply couldn’t tell where to go. It worked out that we ended up going via Mauro’s new route. 

 

Mauro and I took route 3
The sun was up by the time we began the exposed sections
Looking down to the Marconi Valley
We reach a pass and are rewarded with our first view of Fitz Roy’s west face
To the south we look across at the summit peaks of Cerro Piergiorgio
From the pass it’s a simple climb to the summit.
The Torre Range, not so spectacular from this angle
We make a safe descent and return to the road hoping to hitchhike back to town

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