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Patagonia Accident, Fatality and Risk Management

The 2014/15 season is off to a busy and fatal start. With the increased popularity of climbing in Patagonia, changes to the system might be imperative.

Kastining Diltman fell into a crevasse on the north side of Fitz Roy while descending below the Supercanaleta. He was NOT roped to his partner Ralf Gantzhurn and as a result broke many bones and had other serious trauma. Due to his serious injuries, a helicopter was called in, but crashed during the flight to pick up Diltman.

Pablo Argiz, the pilot, did not have to make the heli run, in fact he likely would not have been paid. He was being generous and was concerned about the well-being of the injured climbing.

Diltman eventually made it to El Calafate in stable condition.

2013 rescue from same area on Fitz Roy

During that time, two Italian climbers Daniele de Patre and teammate Andreas, had an accident in the access area to the West Face of Cerro Torre. Colin Haley and Canadian Sarah Hart were on hand to assist in the rescue.

Colin Haley wrote on his Facebook page, “A month and a half after my arrival in Patagonia this season, a good weather window finally came to the Chalten Massif this past weekend. Unfortunately, Hart and I spent the first half of the window helping to rescue two very inexperienced climbers who had taken a tumble on the glacier below the Torres. It is undoubtedly more frustrating for the volunteer rescue team in El Chalten, who in recent seasons have been rallied to someone’s aid during nearly every weather window, and more often than not due to lack of basic mountaineering skills that should be prerequisite for anyone climbing in this mountain range. I’m not sure what the solution is, but it is clear that the average competency level of climbers in the Chalten Massif is much lower today than it was a decade ago. Perhaps this trend is not unique to the Chalten Massif?”

On the Pataclimb website, there is a new risk management paper that outlines the basics for visitors to the area. “Climbing in such a serious wilderness area, where the rescues are done on a volunteer basis and where it is not possible to carry out wall rescues (other than self-rescue not a single wall rescue has ever been successful), requires that we learn to choose objectives that correspond comfortably to our skill level. Adequate risk management is essential. It is mandatory to behave in a self sufficient manner.”

Risk Management Paper by Rolando Garibotti

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