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Team Washington Wins in Patagonia
Posted on: January 10, 2011
Jens Holsten nears the summit of Aguja Mermoz after completing Jardines Japoneses (5.10 A1 AI4 M5, 650m). Together with Mike Schaefer and Colin Haley, the team climbed the often-dreamed-of line on the east face of Aguja Mermoz. [Photo] Mikey Schaefer
In late December, as the weather cleared over Argentinean Patagonia, three Washington-based climbers teamed up for a new route on the east face of Aguja Mermoz. In a 26-hour push (camp to camp) Mike Schaefer, Jens Holsten and Colin Haley climbed Jardines Japoneses (5.10 A1 AI4 M5, 650m) on December 26th. The route follows an ice and mixed gully into a complicated crack system, and then joins the Argentinean route for several pitches of excellent granite to the summit.
Schaefer attempted the line in 2009, but was unsuccessful due to poor snow and ice caused by warm weather. Schaefer attempted the route again in December 2010, this time with Jens Holsten, but an advancing storm forced them to descend in whiteout conditions. Two weeks later they were joined by Haley for another attempt. Under clear skies they quickly reached their previous highpoint, and using "full alpine trickery" were soon "swinging between crack systems searching for a reasonable way up." Haley took a lead fall when a snow mushroom collapsed, but the clean slab below left him unharmed, and the team continued. Upon reaching the Argentine Ridge they exchanged their ice axes for rock shoes, prepared to face the fierce winds, and climbed the final rock pitches to the summit.
The route Schaefer had seen long ago was done. It was an especially rewarding occasion for Jens Holsten as well, who wrote on his blog, "my first Patagonian summit felt extra sweet since it was a moment I had waited for since 2008, the same year I came to Chalten only to watch one of Patagonia's best weather windows ever slip by as I battled pneumonia."
Jens Holsten atop his first Patagonian summit. [Photo] Mikey Schaefer