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Patagonia’s Epic Care Bear Traverse Climb

A short film featuring splitter conditions and an awesome Fitz range route

Earlier this year, Jacob Cook and Tyler Karow climbed the first half of the Fitz Traverse from Paso Guillaumet to the summit of Cerro Chaltén (Fitz Roy) in two days, a linkup known as the Care Bear Traverse. It was one of the most deadly season’s in Patagonia, with five climbers dying by avalanches, rockfall or exposure to the elements.

Freddie Wilkinson and Dana Drummond established the traverse in 2008. It involves climbing Aguja Guillaumet, Mermoz, Goretta Pillar, and Fitz Roy, across each summit. The Care Bears were a children’s TV show in the 1980s about a group of bears that lived in the clouds. Read more about the climb here.

Karow’s Trip Report: We both had just arrived in town with very little rest (and a fever for Jacob) so we agreed to keep things relatively chill, wake up late each day, and just go with the flow. Our initial plan was to sleep at Paso Guillaumet the first evening but when we arrived at 6:30 p.m., a spark of excitement and a waning fever persuaded us to climb to the summit for some seriously bitchin dinner views. The next day we traversed past Aguja Mermoz to the base of Cerro Chaltén, and booked it up the incredible splitter cracks of the Goretta Pillar to a bivy spot about two thirds of the way up the mountain. Jacob’s condition had deteriorated and he woke the next day with a fever and sore throat… Covid. Luckily he was still psyched enough to continue as we climbed to the summit of the Goretta Pilar via the incredibly enjoyable Gringos Perdidos.

We spent nearly an hour on top eating salami and cheese while debating whether to go up or down. The next pitches to the summit of Cerro Chaltén climb through flowing water but I somehow found myself completely in my element on those soaking wet steep cracks, as I blasted music and aid climbed to get up as quickly as possible. We eventually caught up with our friends Thomas and J Guy climbing alongside each other over moderate mixed and ice terrain to the summit in the late afternoon. Moral was high as we ate dinner on top of Cerro Chaltén but shortly before bed, that changed as we got word that two climbers had died in an avalanche during their descent from the mountain. That news along with my constant thoughts of John Bolte, made our descent day incredibly stressful and unpleasant. Jacob and I made it back to town at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday after waiting many hours to rappel La Brecha in the evening in cooler temperatures. 

Care Bear Traverse