Markus Pucher is one of Patagonia’s leading alpine rock and ice climbers with many big climbs to his name.
In 2016, he made the first solo winter ascent of Cerro Pollone after having to retreat a few weeks earlier.
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Pollone was a consolation climb after attempting to make the second winter solo of Fitz Roy. The feat has only been achieved once by Yasushi Yamanoi in the 1990s.
Pucher has also made the first winter solo ascent of Aguja Guillaumet. He told UKclimbing.com after: “If I think about that moment, I could scream again with joy. The weather was really nice, and when I stood up there the clouds ripped open and the sun laughed in my face.
“I stood at the highest point of the summit, gave a smile back to the sun and felt like a winner! A winner against the snow storm, a winner against myself. I did not want to go down anymore, but I had to…my two friends were waiting for me and I wanted to tell them how nice it was up there. After a few steps in the deep snow, I turned around, said goodbye to the summit and felt like a winner.”
Pucher made the first free solo ascent of Cerro Torre in both 2013 and 2014 via the Ragni route M4 600m. The first time succeeding in just three hours 15 minutes. The second time summiting despite a white-out storm – described by Patagonia Vertical author Rolando Garibotti as “one the the most harrowing ascents in Patagonian climbing history.”
Pucher is in his early 40s and lives in Gendorf, Austria. He works as a mountain guide and began climbing at the age of 14 in the Malta valley.
About Pollone, Pucher said: “After I tried Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, I realised that the problems I had on both were due to the snow and I thought I would have a go at Cerro Pollone.
“The climbing is not as difficult technically, only the last five metres to the summit are technically tricky. Some people stop and turn back just below the summit, but I wanted to attempt the last few metres of difficult climbing.
“I followed the line of the Cara Sur, with a variation on the start, further to the right. I reached the very top – I stood up on the summit.”