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Top Crack Climbers at it Again in Patagonia

For the second time this season, Pete Whittaker and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll repeated a new-for-2023 route and made the first free ascent

Pete Whittaker and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll have freed their second route in Patagonia this season. The veteran crack climbers have been teaming up for several big climbs lately.

First they made the first free ascent of Yacaré on Rafael Juarez in the Fitz Roy Range, which was just opened by Pedro Odell and Tomás Odell. The 550-metre went free at 5.12 up some wide cracks. “Higher on the route there was an offwidth splitter pitch which hadn’t been fully freed. With Sean loving a good offwidth struggle as well,” said Whittaker. “We got drawn into the idea of giving it ago. Turned out to be quite tricky due to a lot of ice and verglass in the wide section. The pitch turned out to be 60m of incredible rock and incredible grovel, with a delicate slab move to connect the cracks.”

Taking advantage of another recent weather window, Whittaker and Villanueva O’Driscoll made the first free ascent of Anda p’ alla! on the West Face of Guillaumet. This line was first climbed in July by a team of four. Whittaker said, “The route didn’t disappoint, brilliant rock on perfect flaring splitters… I got stopped by an obvious crux; A thin seam with awkward body positioning and flaring finger jams. The individual moves went free and I went to the anchor. Sean had a lead and worked on the moves, then next go I surprised myself by redpointing it!”

They graded Anda p’ alla! 5.13b and managed to climb it in a day and return home. Villanueva O’Driscoll and Whittaker are two of the best crack climbers going, but Villanueva O’Driscoll has over a decade of experience in Patagonia whereas this was Whittaker’s first trip.