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Solo on Friable Rock on Cerro Marconi Sur

Markus Pucher celebrates on the summit of Cerro Marconi Sur after his solo first ascent of the West Face by his new mixed route, Into the Wild (M5, 800m), which he climbed in two hours and fifty minutes. Fitz Roy is left of his raised fist.
[Photo] Markus Pucher

On April 16, several days after his partner Thomas Bubendorfer experienced foot problems and the pair aborted an attempt on Cerro Torre, Austrian alpinist Markus Pucher made the first ascent, solo, of the remote West Face of Cerro Marconi Sur. The 8,150-foot (2484-meter) peak is the high point of a jagged ridge in the Cordon Marconi range northwest of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre on the eastern edge of the Patagonia ice cap.

Starting from base camp on the ice cap below the peak, Pucher free soloed the new mixed route, Into the Wild (M5, 800m), in two hours and fifty minutes.

Previously, Marconi Sur, sitting on the border of Argentina and Chile, had been climbed only once, when Italian Antonio Taglialegne soloed the East Face in 1995 with one bivouac. The West Face had been attempted twice: once by Argentine climbers in 1982, and later by French climbers in 1999. Both attempts tackled terrain south of Pucher’s line.

The Marconi Range is seldom visited, with Cerro Marconi Norte having a handful of ascents, and Cerro Marconi Central and Aguja Dumbo each having only a single documented ascent. Colin Haley and Rolando Garibotti first climbed Marconi Central in December 2013, while Dejan Koren and Bostjan Mikuz climbed Aguja Dumbo in mid-November 2013.

[To learn more about the previous ascents of Cerro Marconi Central and Aguja Dumbo, read this NewsWire from May 4–Ed.]

Looking north along the snowy summit ridge of Marconi Sur.
[Photo] Markus Pucher

Pucher named his route Into the Wild after the Jon Krakauer book because of the similarities between his own and Chris McCandless’s solo Alaska journey. Puncher, carrying minimal equipment and food, “was in the wilderness for three days, eating berries and [crossed] a huge river to reach my goal,” he wrote in a press release.

Pucher described the climbing on Marconi Sur as “similar to the North Face of the Eiger or Matterhorn,” with friable rock held together by snow and ice. His ascent came four months after his solo climb of the Ragni Route on Cerro Torre in a raging snowstorm.

[Read the NewsWire, by Rolando Garibotti, here: Cerro Torre Free Soloed in Whiteout Conditions–Ed.]

“The climb,” he said, “was supposed to be part of my preparation for a big project in August, but having achieved this first ascent of this wall, I think this may become one of my most beautiful adventures.”