You can really only trust the weather forecast 3-4 days in advance in Patagonia. We spent much time staring longingly at various sites such as NOAA, YR, Mountain Forecast, meteoblue, and Wind Guru. Whichever one gave us the most promising forecast was our favorite but YR and Meteoblue were what we referred to most often.
When we last headed into the Torre Valley there was a tantalizing weather on the horizon a week out which is a dangerous to count on because of how fast things change. By the time we hiked out 2 days later the weather window had deteriorated down to one good day which would be good for another smaller objective.
After hiking into the Torre Valley twice we were ready for a change and made plans to go up to camp at Piedra Negra close to Guillaumet. We had previously climbed Guillaumet via the Mascioni Brenner and were excited to get on a great looking newer route called Guillatina with a contingency plan of climbing the Fonrouge sitstart if weather looked iffy.
Normally you take a taxi to the Rio Electrico bridge 13km from town and start of the trail to Piedra Del Fraile and eventually Piedra Negra where we would be camping. Fortunately for us we have Cielito Lindo to give us a ride. We picked up some friends who were also getting an “alpine start” of 4pm for for the hike in.
The trail is a little over 6 miles total. A flat 4.5 to Piera del Fraile and then a fairly steep 1.7mile climb up to Piedra Negra that gains 3000ft. For us with our gear it took us around 3.5 hours which was pretty chill compared to the Torre Valley approach we had become accustomed to. We found decent camp sites alongside a strong contingent from the Northwest and had dinner with a great view of our route and out over the Rio Electrico Valley below.
Temps were going to be a little cold and our route was in the shade so we opted for a 7am start. It took us about an hour and a half to get from camp to the base of our route and when we arrived we were quite surprised to see a team just starting off. Guillatina has probably only seen a handful of ascents and a French team just happened to have the same idea as us. We hung out and watched them set forth up the starting ramps and geared up.
The first couple of pitches ramble up easy but interesting ramps for 2 long pitches with a couple of short 6a steps here and there. When we arrived at the third pitch where the route heads left out a chimney the Frenchmen had continued on to the right. I never did figure out if they were trying to open a new route or if they had missed the turnoff. I did at one point have to adeptly dodge the full set of nuts that they threw at me.
Getting into the chimney was a little heads up on committing face moves before getting solid pro in. I would say it felt a little harder than 5+ off the belay. The chimney was quite fun and I climbed part of it on the outside, some of it on face holds, and some of it squirming my way up on the ice coated inside. Not wanting to test the physics of falling on a #4 cam with all it’s lobes on ice I made sure to navigate that section very carefully. The next 6a pitch was also a little heads up off the belay before pulling into an incredible set of double cracks that had some of the best climbing on the route.
The 6c+ pitch was in an off balance shallow corner and turned out to be a tricky calf burning good time. I definitely put in some good old fashioned try hard for the send. Kelsey later mentioned that there were some unusual grunting sounds coming from somewhere above while I was leading that pitch.
The next pitch was my favorite of them all. Steep fun climbing and a splitter that took us all the way up to the intersection of the Fonrouge. By this point the Frenchies had rejoined the route above us and were bailing off the 7a+ pitch above us not sure if they were on route or not. It did look confusing as to where the route went and after a quick chat Kelsey and I decided to finish up the Fonrouge in the interest of time.
We met up with Andy W. and Katherine at the top (the other A and K team) and we rappelled down the Amy together. We got back down to camp as it was starting to get dark, packed quickly, and made the rest of the descent back to the car by headlamp.
In hindsight we could have gone without the ice axes and crampons and our backpacks would have been quite a lot lighter. We were under the impression that they were needed for the top of Guillamet but in its current conditions you can stay on rock the whole time. Knowing that, we would have planned on rappelling the Fonrouge and leaving the spiky things at home. C’est la vie. Extra training weight per usual for us.