In the minds of climbers, Patagonia summons up legendary mystery and challenge. This vast region, encompassing all of the southern cone of South America is a study in contrasts. From the fantastic forms of the Patagonian Andes to endless flat grassland; from the world's third largest ice cap to untouched temperate rain forests; and from cloud-draped salt-water fjords to arid desert-like steppes, this land will surprise and delight. Located entirely within the countries of Argentina and Chile, this region enjoys first-world development while being very sparsely populated.
This course is designed for motivated and fit beginners and for those climbers who wish to review or enhance their skills. Our Patagonia classroom offers some of the finest mountaineering training ground available. Learning, practice and climbing time are maximized as we take advantage of the unique location of the Alpine Ascents base and its direct approaches into the mountains and onto the glaciers and peaks. We provide in-depth training in all phases of mountaineering and expedition travel. There are ample opportunities to put your skills to use on these magnificent and varied peaks in the heart of Chilean Patagonia. Learning and ascent opportunities are plentiful and we'll match your skill level to the most appropriate summits and climbing goals.
The Patagonia program combines the opportunities of our school curriculum with special access to an incomparable classroom and climbing region. Alpine Ascents' exclusive base is the Patagonia Frontiers Wilderness Ranch. The ranch is located in the Soler Valley along the water's edge of Lago Plomo in the Aisén Region of Patagonia, Chile. The waters of Lago Plomo are the furthest western extension of South America's second largest lake, Lago General Carrera. The 2000+ acre ranch is situated in the center of an immense, wild landscape of crystalline lakes, deep blue rivers, broad valleys, ancient forests and spectacular, glaciated peaks. The ranch is Alpine Ascents' private gateway to a vast mountain wilderness encompassing the national parks of the Northern Patagonia Icefield and the numerous adjacent ranges.
This location was hand-picked by John Hauf, founder and 14-year long director of an international outdoor leadership and mountaineering school located in the heart of Patagonia. After many years of mountaineering, exploring and teaching in the area, John purchased the ranch for its unique and privileged access to the countless surrounding mountains. These ranges contain a broad array of mountaineering opportunities, objectives whose level of challenge ranges from beginner to expert. Think of a private ranch embraced on all sides by peaks varying in similarity from the North Cascades Mountains in the Pacific Northwest to the giants of the Alaska Range and you'll have an idea of Alpine Ascents Patagonia mountaineering. Additionally, the reverse seasons between northern and southern hemispheres means that you'll have access to glacial mountaineering when North American opportunities are extremely limited.
From Santiago, Chile you'll fly south to the Balmaceda airport near the town of Coyhaique, the regional capital and a growing town of 40,000. From here, you and your guides continue south by vehicle along the Southern Longitudinal Highway to the picturesque village of Puerto Bertrand (pop.227). There is a ten-mile boat ride to the Alpine Ascents base at Patagonia Frontiers wilderness ranch during which time you'll have ample opportunity to view the snow-capped and glaciated peaks of the Cordón Soler, the Cordón Contreras, and the Northern Patagonia Icefield. Your team will finish final preparations at the ranch and depart for the mountains the next morning.
Approaches to the peaks are steep, but short, as our aim is to maximize climbing time. The expedition team will take the time necessary for an initial skills review before passing back through the ranch for a hot shower and a food re-supply. Then it's back to the mountains and base camp where you'll spend the rest of the expedition choosing your summits, honing your skills, and developing your experience. Depending upon the area that your guide chooses as best suited to your goals and experience, you may receive horse or boat support for a portion of the approach or descent. The final night of your expedition is spent at the ranch house, sharing stories and enjoying a traditional Chilean barbeque, or asado.
This expedition is specifically designed to increase the participant's technical knowledge and skills in all aspects of snow, glacier and alpine mountaineering. Establish mountain living and expedition living skills that will serve as a solid base for future mountain endeavors. Develop educated, self-reliant climbers with the ability to evaluate, mitigate, and manage subjective and objective mountain hazards, develop technical mountaineering skills, experience base, Leave No Trace practices,leadership techniques, risk analysis, and judgment.
Cordón Soler. This mountain range forms the southern border along Alpine Ascents' base at the Patagonia Frontiers wilderness ranch. The range rises sharply from 200m/650ft in the valley to numerous summits ranging between 1800m/5904ft and 2200m/7216ft. Here, too is the Paulina Icefield, more modest in scope than the enormous Northern Patagonia Icefield, in view just up valley, but an excellent mountaineering classroom and scattered with enticing summit objectives.
Cordón Contreras. These mountains form the northern border along the Patagonia Frontiers Wilderness Ranch. The Piña River basin drains a series of six glacial cirques before flowing into Lago Plomo directly next to the Alpine Ascents base. It is our private road into the Contreras range and onto its many glaciers and peaks.
Summits range from 1800m/5904ft to 2500m/8200ft and many of the peaks, Cerro Campamento, Cerro Contreras, and Cerro Horquetas for example, are visible from the ranch. This range is also home to Hidden Basin, a secret glacial bowl ringed with 360 degrees of mountains and offering unbounded opportunity to climb and to learn.
Northern Patagonia Icefield
This is a remnant ice sheet from the Pleistocene epoch that stretches 90 miles north to south and 50 miles east to west. It is relatively unexplored and hundreds of its summits remain unvisited and unnamed. Its abrupt eastern edge is packed with huge peaks (Cerro Largo, Cerro Cachet, Cerro Hyades, Cerro Arenales), alluring mountains, and diverse secondary ranges. The easiest and most direct access to this mountaineering treasure trove is via the Alpine Ascents base at the Patagonia Frontiers wilderness ranch.
From 200m/656ft next to the ranch house some large peaks are just 27km/17miles distant at the valley head, but loom 2700m/8856ft above our heads. The tallest summit, Cerro San Valentín, is 4058m/13310ft. This is as extraordinary and as diverse a mountain landscape as one can imagine.
An Intermediate version of this Course is designed for 6, 8, 12, and 13-day mountaineering course graduates or those climbers with a similar experience level. After a skills review segment, we will establish a base camp from which to attempt a series of glaciated peaks and mixed, alpine routes. The setting is impressive; a camp perched on the end of a long, rock ridge jutting into the center of an extensive glacial basin. We'll use this camp for our base as we match the best routes and summits to the teams abilities and goals. Our aim for all climbs on this expedition is to provide advanced skills practice and broad exposure to a variety of mountaineering challenges and summit objectives. Contact our office for details on the intermediate level course.Return to Top of Page