British climbers Matt Burdekin and Tom Ripley have made the first ascent of a new line on the East Face of Aguja Bifida Sur (South), making what is thought to be the third ascent of the mountain in the process.
Aguja Bifida Sur (2400m) is a seldom climbed mountain, situated at the head of Torre Valley in the Chalten region of Patagonia.
The pair walked into the Torre Valley on 17th January, hiking past Niponino and bivvying an hour further up the valley at the Nunatek. Following a wet night, they set off towards Bifida at mid morning, after waiting for their wet gear to dry out. Expecting difficult climbing, they took 3 days of food and a haul bag. Thankfully the climbing, which followed the centre of the slabs, was easier than expected. They found difficulties up to Hard VS and plenty of loose but not bad quality rock. Starting at midday they climbed 15 pitches of new ground before joining the existing route Cogan just before nightfall. Here they bivvied for the night on an excellent ledge.
The next morning they left their gear and haul bag at the ledge and climbed 9 further pitches, following Cogan at first, before joining the South Ridge to the summit. The four final pitches were the crux of the route and consisted of wet E1 on excellent rock.
Reaching the top at 4pm the pair abseiled down the face roughly following their line of ascent at first and then following a line to the climbers' left on the central slabs. They found the descent relatively straightforward and were back on the glacier by 9pm.
The pair have named their climb The Siren. (800m, HVS, January 18th/19th 2016)
Matt and Tom also made ascents of Aguja Guillaumet and Aguja de la S and a couple of unsuccessful attempts on Fitzroy during their five week trip.
Despite El Chalten attracting numerous climbers this season, they have encountered only one other pair of British climbers in this time. Tom commented:
"Where have you all been? The rock quality out here is excellent, there is stacks of great climbing and once you are here El Chalten is very cheap to live."
Matt and Tom would like thank the MEF, BMC and Austria Alpine Club for the invaluable financial support. They would also like to thank Crux, Edelrid and Mountain House for supplying them with equipment, ropes and freeze dried food.