Two Climbers Die in Patagonia in Separate Incidents Over the Holidays

The Patagonian climbing  season has not started well. Two climbers have lost their lives so far in separate accidents, both related to bad weather.

A Swiss-German man died on December 19 in a fall on a glacier while retreating from a failed attempt on Aguja Standhart  — sometimes also called Cerro Standhart — in the Cerro Torre massif. He and his partner aborted their climb on the granite spire because of rapidly worsening conditions. Shortly after starting down, he slipped while waking down a small glacier at the base of the peak and died instantly, AhoraCalafate reported.

Cassy Doolittle. Photo from her family’s fundraiser


The second occurred on Christmas Day, on Aguja Guillaumet. Twenty-five-year-old Cassy Doolittle of the U.S. was climbing solo when a sudden storm released freezing rain and high winds. She lost her way while rappelling from the summit.

Details are sketchy, but at some point, she was unable to proceed down any further. Doolittle sent an SOS via her InReach device, but rescuers who reached the area the following day couldn’t find her because of bad weather. A second search group finally located her body on Dec. 27, partially buried in snow. She had perished of hypothermia.

Colin Haley: don’t take Patagonia lightly

Colin Haley, currently climbing in the area, mentioned the casualties as “a sobering reminder to those traveling to El Chalten. These mountains are much more serious than anything in the Alps or the contiguous U.S., and shouldn’t be taken lightly, he warned.

Haley said the weather has been worse than average in Patagonia this season. Check the videos of a windy training day that he had in Loma Blanca three days ago:

Patagonia’s climbing season coincides with the austral summer. January and February are the busiest months.

NOTE: “Aguja” is Spanish for “needle,” but when referring to peaks, it can be also translated as “spire”. “Cerro” means “hill,” but is the name used for most Andean mountains. 

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.