Stunning Traverse in Patagonia’s Grupo La Paz by Pelletti and Co.

Sebastian Pelletti may have been the standout climber in a wildly active 2021-22 Patagonia climbing season. Just when we thought the newswire from El Chalten had gone quiet, he and two partners gave us one more dose of alpine stoke.

Over three days in late February, Pelletti and Hernan Rodriguez traversed the four peaks of the Grupo La Paz in the Ayayema Wesqar Crossing. The little strip of land lies about 100km south of the Torres Del Paine, between two narrow canals.

 

The setting seems otherworldly. Patagonia Vertical called it “a stunning place where glaciers fall from the peaks to the sea, turquoise lakes abound, and carnivorous plants guard the entrance to mysterious mountain valleys.”

Spirit of the mountains

Antar Machado joined the duo to film the adventure. On February 21, they set out on the west-to-east traverse, which covered six to seven kilometres. The westmost tower is small, and the group named it Aguja Yeque (yeque means “small” in Kaweskar, the area’s indigenous language). The group’s route was 150m, 5.7.

 

They then made short work of the range’s highest peak, Aguja Oeste, via a previously-climbed line. The 300m Quesada-San Vicente route goes at 5.10. After a few rappels down the east face and a low ridgeline traverse that sounds unenviable, they bivouacked at the base of Aguja Central.

 

Typical unstable Patagonian weather then forced Pelletti, Rodriguez, and Machado to hunker down for a full day. They started up again at midnight between February 22 and 23 and immediately climbed into a hard pitch in marginal conditions.

“Visibility was low,” Patagonia Vertical reported. “Not only was it dark, but the clouds were dense. The first two [pitches] were easy, but the third seemed unlikely. Luckily, just at that moment, the cloud floor fell beneath them, and with stars shining, Seba [climbed the crux pitch] (5.11-).”

 

Next, the smaller Aguja Este yielded climbing up to 5.10+ and a long rappel.

The team called its route Ayayema Wesqar (1000m 5.11-), which means “spirit of the mountain” in the Kaweskar language. The indigenous group inhabited the Patagonian fiords for thousands of years.

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.


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