I don’t want to be a pessemist, but these aren’t the kind of conditions you want to climb any kind of big wall. When you need 20 hours or more for an operation like this in good weather, how long would you need in bad conditions? And now the question is: what to do in this situation? We can’t take any risks here.
1000 meters higher than everything around it, Charles Darwin called this mountain the most sublime spectacle in Tierra del Fuego and when you love mountains, you can really become enthusiastic about this mountain. Its isolation, its beauty and perhaps even its diva-like qualities, the mountain shows itself so rarely. Yet when it does, it’s so unbelievably beautiful. like something from another world. A trip to Sarmiento is basically a logistic nightmare, because the mountain is in the middle of the ocean and you can only get there by boat. Fritz Miller is a mountain guide and one of the strongest mountaineers that I know I know Axel Voss from serveral climbing trips and we get along really well, we both have the same enthusiasm for mountains and basically it’s essential that everyone stays in a good mood. Our point of departure is Ushaia, the southern most city in the world. Ushaia is in Argentina and because the mountain is in Chile, you have to travel from Ushaia to Porto Williams to take care of the different formalities. From Porto Williams you have to travel west through the Beagle Canal. Then into its northeast arm. From there you continue in the Bagenero Canal and then through the Cockburn Canal directly to Sarmiento, which basically borders the Cockburn Canal. The Pia Fjord is surely one of the most beautiful fjords in Tierra del Fuego. You basically sale into the mountains and at the end of the fjord, 3 glaciers flow directly into the ocean and above you are mountains over 2500 meters high, one of the most spectacular fjords on this planet. The mountains around there are the highest in the whole Cordillera Darwin. The weather did us the favor of clearing up completely,
we had half a day of sunshine, turquoise green water, blue skies, and the summit was completely free. That was one of those moments, a gift from the gods. No one has really lived in West Tierra del Fuego and the only people you find here are the fishermen. It’s difficult to imagine under what conditions they live here. They come from Punta Areans to fish between 2 to even 4 weeks under the most miserable conditions and during that time they collect between 60,000 and 70,000 sea urchins. There is a romour that licences have already been be sold for salmon breeding and everything that is not allowed in Europe, is still happening here, which means using antibiotics and overfeeding the fish. The salmon breeding companies are moving from the North to the inhospitable South. In that way one fjord after the other is used, and when it’s no longer possible, and the fjord is basically biologically dead, they move onto the next fjord which would basically mean the destruction of the nature around here. At the moment, man seems to think that he controls the world and I think that this is a really short term and totally idiotic way of looking at things. We humans are so caught up in this technological and communication madness. So much so the real beauty and peace that you can find here get’s completely lost in the normal stress of everyday life. Here you can get back to your roots. I think that time spent here would be good for almost anyone. Welcome back to Escandaio. I think I’ve spent about 5 months here. Doesn’t really feel good at the moment. In the boat we waited for a forecast of good weather. And received a day by day update, but it never really looked like it was going to get good enough. So it basically meant waiting and hoping that sooner or later good weather would come. After waiting for 10 days, we got a weather forecast that promised a rising air pressure which got our hopes up again. It was clear that this was going to be our last chance and the last possible 2 days we could stay here. I still had my hopes up high that we would get 2 days of good weather. We not only had the problem of new snow, but also that we met up with wind speeds of 40-50 knots per hour. It was a battle against Nature’s forces. Hope is usually the last to go, so we still had a little hope left, but after we heard the new forecast it was clear, we only had one day with halfway good conditions. Basically I almost knew then, that this was it again. The mountain is a diva, a beauty to look at but dangerous as hell. This morning she was once again playing with her admires. Bathed in a pink light, enveloped in clouds, not allowing us to see the main summit. Then for a few minutes you could actually see it, then it was compeletely covered again and you thought that was the end of the spectacle. Only the later once again see it in its entire beauty for about an hour. From our advanced base camp we could see the entire mountain which is shaped like a pyramid. A 1500 meters high and an absolutely perfectly shaped triangle. If a kid would draw a mountain, it would basically be drawing Mount Sarmiento. We decided to make the most of the remaining half day of good weather and took on a smaller summit that was rising right above our advanced base camp. And eventually we were maybe even the first people on Cuerno Negro. Obviously it was a smaller summit compared to Mount Sarmiento, which is 1000 meters higher. But it was still an extremely impressve summit anyway. The unique thing about Tierra del Fuego, is that everything is so wild, so isolated, so deserted And at the same time so demanding, so impressive and in a way so serious. One really does go through the mountains here with another level of consciousness. Of course it wasn’t such a nice situation to be in, to be standing there and know that it hadn’t worked out At the same time it’s a pretty common situation in mountaineering and I’ve learned to deal with this. When something challenges me, then I’m keep coming back for it. But only time will tell. To experience Nature’s beauty up close and so powerfully would do us good in our life and help us become more humble. I think a lot gets lost in the fast pace of our lives. I’m more in harmony with myself here. Whether I’ve made the summit or not, it really isn’t that important.