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The 50th Anniversary of Fitz Roy’s Supercanaleta

On Jan. 15, 1965, Carlos Comesana and Jose Luis Fonrouge made the first ascent of the Supercanaleta on Fitz Roy.

Fitz Roy
Fitz Roy

Comesana and Fonrouge’s ascent was the second of Fitz Roy, after the first ascent in 1952 by French alpinists Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone.

Supercanaleta Topo and More on Pata Climb

The route climbs a very obvious line that is technically the easiest to the summit, but has many objective hazards and is still dangerous.

Canadian Jen Olson Climbs the Supercanaleta

It heads 1,000 metres up the obvious gash in the west face. It then climbs 15 pitches of rock and mixed climbing. It warm weather, it’s a shooting gallery and should be avoided, but in the right conditions can be quite safe. The final 200 metres is the crux of the route.

There is no footage from the 1964 ascent, but here is a great video of an ascent of Fitz Roy by Cheyne Lempe.

Viva Patagonia – First Ascent from Cheyne Lempe on Vimeo.

Here is a story by Marcelo Eduardo Espejo that first appeared on Explorers Web in 2005.

Fitz Roy: 40 Year Anniversary of the First Alpine Style New Route
By Marcelo Eduardo Espejo

January 16, 1965 two climbers accomplished what is still today considered as one of the most remarkable climbs on the Patagonian spires. Jose Luis Fonrouge and Carlos Comesana reached the summit of Fitz Roy for the second time in history.

They had climbed the virgin super-couloir known as the Supercanaleta. For summit proof, they retrieved a carabiner left there by the 1952’s French expedition and left an Argentinean flag in its place.

The straight path is not always easy

The obvious and impressive 1,800-metre gully was first explored by Hans Zechner in 1974. It was the straightest way to the summit, but far from easy.It was attempted in 1962 and 1964.

Jose and Carlos were part of a five-member team that split up even before reaching the foot of the wall. One year before they had attempted the huge Northeast Dihedral and knew well what to expect in the area.

Three days, 20 pitches

For a warm-up they made a first climb of the Guillaumet Spire, reaching the top in alpine style through the northwest spur in 36 hours.

January 14, they went for the Supercanaleta. It took them only three days to summit and climb back in alpine style, fixing 20 pitches on the way. This was a big difference compared to the French expedition, the only ones who had summited Fitzroy before. The French team, led by the European climbing legend Lionel Terray, worked the route for a month and aid-climbed most of the wall to get to the top.

Winter repeat

Even today, the Supercanaleta on Fitzroy is considered a first class climb. Another Argentinean team of Eduardo Brenner, Sebastián de la Cruz and Gabriel Ruiz repeated the route in the first winter climb of the granite tower.

Carlos Comesaña and Jose Fonrouge went on to other amazing climbs – the Poincenot spire, Aconcagua’s South face, Torres del Paine, South face of Cerro Catedral and climbs in the Antarctic Peninsula. In 2001, the saga ended when Jose died in a plane crash.

Fitz Roy topo from Pata Climb, click to visit pataclimb.com
Fitz Roy topo from Pata Climb, click to visit pataclimb.com