Update: last updated on 10/03/2017.
1. West face
2. Northeast Ridge
3. East Face - El Valor del Miedo
4. Southwest face
5. Northwest ridge - The Lost World
6. North face - Gone with the Wind
7. Southeast ridge - Pilar del Sol Naciente
Cerro Murallón is a ca. 2800-meter peak located to the west of the Upsala Glacier, inside Los Glaciares National Park. Its north, east and southeast aspects offer great established routes and inmense climbing potential.
How to get there.
From Punta Bandera, a port 100km west of El Calafate, you have to take a boat across Lago Argentino, to its northeastern tip, to Estancia Cristina, a tourist resort of sorts. From there you have two options. You can cross the Upsala Glacier further south or further north.
For the north and east face you will want to go to Refugio Pascale (3-4hs) and from there north, past Laguna Larga (2hs), to then head northwest cross the Upsala Glacier (4-5hs), traveling the south side of the glacier between Murallón and Cerro Don Bosco to reach the base (5hs).
For the southeast ridge you will want to go to Refugio Upsala (2hs), then down to the shore of Lago Guillermo (1hs), crossing right at the front of the glacier to reach the main flow of the Upsala Glacier (3-4hs), crossing it to reach the glacier between Murallón and Cerro Cono (2hs). This is best traveled on its south side (flatter) to then cross north to the base of the peak itself (5hs).
You must secure a permit from the National Park. It is advisable that you inform them via email well ahead of time (the permit is free). Also you must secure cooperation from the folks at Estancia Cristina. They might be able to help with the boat ride and also storing gear and the like.
Carrying all your kit to the base is at least half of the challenge involved in climbing the mountain.
There are supermarkets in El Calafate with everything you might need except specialty mountain food such as bars, gels and freeze dried dinners. There you will also find propane canisters for Jetboil like stoves and white gas (solvente in spanish) for MSR like stoves.
What to bring.
Because the area is fairly remote a satellite phone could be a useful tool.
The purpose of this write-up is to give a quick overview of what has been done.
West face. In January of 1961 Jack Ewer and Eric Shipton (GB), Eduardo García and Cedomir Marangunic (CL) climbed from the northwest to the long summit crest, reaching the base of a steep ice buttress, some ten meters below what they deemed to be the summit. At that point a storm moved in and they retreated. (Alpine Journal 1962, pages 250-258; The Land of Tempest, Eric Shipton, Hodder and Stoughton, GB, 1963; Vertebrate Publishing - eBook - 2016).
Northeast Ridge. In February of 1984 Carlo Aldè, Casimiro Ferrari and Paolo Vitali (IT) completed the first ascent of the northeast ridge (1300m 5+ A3). They fixed three ropes in the crux section but otherwise climbed alpine style, completing the climb over four and a half days. They reached the east summit, but did not continue to the main summit. They spent most of a day trying to find the easy descent to the west, but finally decided to rappel the route. They christened the steep pillar part way up the face Torre Ben, in honor of Benvenuto Laritti, an alpinist from Lecco that traveled to climb all over the world. He died in 1983 when he was hit by a rock slide, the result of a falling meteorite (a great biography about him here). A long write up about the ascent, including a topo for the route, can be found here (pdf format). Ferrari had made attempts in 1979, 1980 and 1982.
East Face - El Valor del Miedo. In 1984 and before attempting the northeast ridge, Carlo Aldè, Fabio Lenti, and Paolo Vitali climbed half way the east face, to the upper edge of the central snowfield. Here they left a gear cache and descended back to the base, They had hoped to complete the climb the next day. The east face looked far simpler than the northeast ridge and they thought of capitalizing on a short weather window to get a good result in their pockets before dedicating the next two months to their intended objective. In the evening, when Casimiro Ferrari reached the base, he argued that they were there to climb the northeast ridge and refused to attempt the east face. The next day Carlo, Fabio and Paolo went back to their high point to retrieve their gear.
In 1999 Laurence Monnoyeur and Bruno Sourzac (FR) followed Carlo, Fabio and Paolo's footsteps to the upper edge of the central snowfield and continued on, climbing several pitches (90˚ A2 M5) before retreating in a fierce storm. They had climbed 2/3rds of the face. More info in the American Alpine Journal: here.
In 2/2017, David Bacci, Matteo Bernasconi and Matteo Della Bordella followed a similar line to the previous two parties to complete the first ascent of the east face. El Valor del Miedo climbs 1000 meters with difficulties to 90˚ A2 and M6. They bivied once, 200m below the top of the wall, which they reached the next day in deteriorating weather. They reached an eastern subsummit, but did not continue to the main summit. They attempted to find the easy descent to the west, but instead ended at the edge of the south face, which they descended in ten rappels to reach Glaciar Cono.
Southwest face. In October 2003 Rolando Garibotti (AR) and Silvo Karo (SI) climbed to the summit from the southwest, following a series of easy glacial tongues. This is an uninteresting climb, one that could be done with skis. It was done as a consolation for not having a large enough rack to attemtp the SE ridge, their original objective. Theirs was the first ascent to the summit, the only ascent to date.
Northwest ridge - The Lost World. In November of 2003 Stefan Glowacz, Robert Jasper and Klaus Fengler (DE) climbed a line up an obvious pillar on the far west side of the north face (1100m 6b M8). They climbed the route in a day, reaching the summit ridge, retreating without continuing on to the summit. More information here or in the American Alpine Journal: here.
North face - Gone with the Wind. In November 2005 Stefan Glowacz and Robert Jasper (DE) climbed Gone with the Wind (1000m 7c+ A2), a steep line in the center of the north face. They spent several weeks working on the route, fixing 500 meters of rope, which were left in place. They reached the summit plateau from where they retreated. More information can be found here and here.
Southeast Ridge - Pilar del Sol Naciente. In late 2012 Lise Billon, Francois Poncet, Jérémy Stagnetto, Jerome Sullivan (FR) and Pedro Angel Galan Diaz (ES) made the first ascent of the beautiful southeast ridge, the most appealing and striking line in the entire peak. They fixed ropes placing a porta-ledge camp one-third of the way up, and from there used the same ropes to fix the middle third, climbing the last third "alpine-style". They reached the summit plateau but did not continue on to the summit. They spent nine days on the wall, placing 15 bolts, all at belays. They named the route Pilar del Sol Naciente (1000m W6 M6 7b A1). A photo gallery here. More info in the American Alpine Journal: here.
In 1974 José Luis Fonrouge and Rafael Juárez (AR) had made an attempt from the southeast (Anuario Club Andino Bariloche 1979, page 20). Juárez died barely a month later during an attempt to climb on the Cordón Adela with Eduardo Atilio Mundet.
Where to find more information.
Buy a copy of Silvia Metzeltin and Gino Buscaini's book: Patagonia: Terra Magica per Alpinisti e Viaggiatori (Dall'Oglio, Milano, 1987). The Italian version can be purchased through Amazon. It is an excellent book, well worth every penny. The Spanish version published by Ediciones Desnivel is of much lesser quality than the original and has many translation mistakes.
The first issue of the Cuadernos Patagonicos, published by Tecpetrol (Techint) was dedicated to the various expeditions from the Ragni di Lecco to Patagonia and that includes information from Alde, Ferrari and Vitali's ascent. A Spanish online version of that can be found here.
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Photos (click to enlarge)
Cerro Murallón - Approach
Cerro Murallón - East face
Cerro Murallon - Northeast pillar
Cerro Murallon - Northeast pillar
Cerro Murallón - North face
Cerro Murallón - North pillar
Cerro Murallón - Gone with the Wind
Cerro Murallón - Southeast ridge
Cerro Murallón - Pilar del Sol Naciente