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Cerro Riso Patron Central NE Patagonia
Photo by arch. Ragni Lecco
An image of the coast of where the Ragni di Lecco team members might have been picked up.
Photo by Planetmountain.com
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Hielo Continental: the Ragni di Lecco expedition completes traverse

18.02.2009 by Planetmountain

Hervé Barmasse, Giovanni Ongaro and Daniele Bernasconi have completed the traverse of the Hielo Continetal Sud and safely reached the Falcon Ford. Their idea of climbing the North Pillar of Cerro Riso Patron faltered as the mountain proved inaccessible, so much so that reaching the Fjord proved an undertaking in its own right.

It should have been a traverse of the Hielo Continetal Sud with a side-trip to the unclimbed North Pillar of Cerro Riso Patron, the immense 1700m high missile. It should have been, because after a 4 difficult days spent traversing he icefield to Riso Patron, Hervé Barmasse, Mario Conti, Giovanni Ongaro and Daniele Bernasconi discovered the mountain was... unclimbable. As Alberto Pirovano, President of the Ragni di Lecco, explains, "the face climbed by Ferrari, Lombardini and Spreafico in 1988 wasn't there any more!"

"But this certainly wasn't the only surprise" continued Pirovano who was in close contact with the team. "Instead of the great ice face the three were greeted by unclimbable seracs. The entire mountain had transformed into a decaying island, in the centre of a confused mass of seracs and crevaces. It almost seemed like a storming sea, frozen stiff; it was simply impossible to get close to the walls..."

The only choice at this point was to search for different lines of ascent, but after having circumnavigated the mountain the three had to accept the obvious: reaching the walls was nigh impossible or extremely risky due to the tormented nature of the ice. The team was faced with two options. Either return to where they came from to Paso del Viento and then El Chalten, or continue as originally planned and traverse across the Hielo Continental Sud to the Falcon Fjord. As Patagonia experts know, this traverse certainly isn't a walk in the park. This is the third largest ice sheet in the world after the Antarctic and Greenland, and much of this remains unexplored. Seeing that at least this important objective was still feasible, they opted to continue the traverse. They did so remaining in touch with the Ragni President who in turn co-ordinated with Carlos Comesana, the first ascentionist of Supercanaleta on Fitz Roy and Ragni di Lecco member since 2004. Furthermore, Comesana is an expert of those seas since he apart from being a mountaineer he is also a worldfamous sailor.

To continue their adventure Barmasse, Ongaro and Bernasconi were forced to abandon their sledges and continue on foot with all gear in their rucksacks. With rationed provisions they reached the summit plateau on which the Riso Patron pyramid is based, then descended towards Fjord Falcon via a different route than the one chosen by the 1988 Casimiro Ferrari expedition, ie along the line chosen by Jean-Marc Boivin & Co in 1982. In the meantime team member Mario Conti organised the return trip, as this had originally been scheduled for 10 days later.

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