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Patagonia Rescue

Patagonia Rescue, December 2013

Two climbers rescued from the base of Fitz Roy’s Supercanaleta.

The climbing in Patagonia has been compared to Chamonix and the Bugaboos, fine alpine granite in a remote location. If an accident happens in the Bugaboos or Chamonix, rescuers can be called upon. In Patagonia, there is no established organization to rescue climbers. This has led to a number of tragic accidents in past years. One of the main downfalls is the lack of a helicopter for speedy search and rescue or recovery missions. The last two seasons in Patagonia have been blessed with good conditions and weather, as a result more climbers will be heading there.

On December 18, 2013, two Swedish women were attempting to climb Fitz Roy’s Supercanaleta. The details are fuzzy, but an accident occurred and the women were badly injured.

From Centro Andino El Chalten (Facebook): Rescue at the base of Cerro Fitz Roy, two victims, Swedish, an exposed fracture of tibia, fibula and wrist, another fracture of heel and other things, possible pneumothorax. More than 40 volunteers helped with the rescue.

From Canadian Sarah Hart (Facebook): Yesterday I was involved in the rescue of two climbers who had a fallen while climbing on the west side of Fitz Roy. The team of volunteers from El Chalten, and international climbers who participated did an incredible job. Those girls were in great hands.

The two women had not registered with the park, although it is not required. A helicopter was requested from the military, but they could not assist in the rescue, so the women were carried out on stretchers to the road where an ambulance took them to El Calafate.

There is a community outcry for a search and rescue organization to be established, at the very least an available helicopter, but this is not the first time. Climbers travelling to Patagonia need to remember they are alone in those hills, luckily for these two women, they were found in time.

Hansjonrg Auer, an accomplished Patagonian climber said on planetmountain.com, “My aim is to demonstrate that in Patagonia the weather still changes dramatically and suddenly, that the West Face of Cerro Torre is one of the remotest peaks, that there is no helicopter rescue in Patagonia and that in just a few minutes continuing upwards or even descending can transform into real hell. I’ve been through this myself a few times and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

Fitz Roy
Fitz Roy