Expedition to the Northern Patagonian Ice Sheet

In October, Robert Jasper, extreme mountaineer, together with his fellow mountain guides Jörn Heller and Andi Thomann and photographer Klaus Fengler set out on an expedition to the little-explored northern Patagonian Ice Sheet. Their motto: “Exploring” virtually to the last white spots on our globe! Naturally, they chose travellunch for provisions once more.

The exploration of one of the world’s largest ice surfaces and the ascent of a mountain were part of the program. From Puerto Bertrand in Chile, they went by boat across Lago Plomo to the Val Soler valley, which extends into the inland ice for many kilometers. The approach led them through wilderness and cold rainforest, and after 4 days the base camp was set up.

The fact that reconnaissance is necessary in unknown mountains with huge glacier areas took its toll and forced the climbers to change plans and routes several times.

Here, glacier melt is progressing faster than anywhere else in the world, and the map material was severely deficient! “As an extreme climber and mountain guide, I depend on good ice conditions. Of course, the melting of the glaciers is an even bigger problem on a global scale, not just for us climbers,” said Robert Jasper.

Huge ice fractures and crevasses opened up and made it difficult to move forward! Storms with very bad weather, heavy rain and snowfall forced the climbers again and again to hold out at base camp.

After more than 4 weeks in the wilderness and several energy-sapping attempts on the mountain, food supplies were running low and had to be rationed to take advantage of the last chance. A window of good weather was on the horizon for the last day of the expedition. Robert Jasper and his team put all their eggs in one basket to climb Cerro Largo, a mighty, heavily iced mountain towering above the glaciers of the inland ice, in the so-called “single push style” with light equipment. First with skis, then in steeper and steeper ice and finally climbing over vertical wind-blown snow mushrooms the summit was reached!  This was the second ascent of the mountain ever and the first non-stop ascent! The coordinates were noted by GPS! Almost 50km and over 5000 meters of altitude in 18 hours. Those were the facts when the group reached base camp again shortly after midnight in the light of the headlamps!


Text/photos: Klaus Fengler