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[TR] Frey, Cerro Catedral, Argentina - Various 1/8/2007

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Trip: Frey, Cerro Catedral, Argentina - Various


Date: 1/8/2007


Trip Report:


Frey is just outside of Bariloche, Argentina, a small resort town on a lake, and can be reached via bus or taxi from the city in ~30 min to the base of a ski hill called Cerro Catedral. From here begins the trek to the Refugio Frey and the tower climbing of the area. The trek takes 3-4 hrs depending on how fast you go and how much stuff you carry. Since there is a refugio to eat and sleep at, I took pretty much nothing, just a small pack with a rope and my rack and enough clothes to deal with most mountain weather. The walk up to the refugio is along a well-trodden path through some stands of hardwood forests that leads up to a lake at the head wall of a cirque. Right at the edge of the lake is the Refugio Emilio Frey, run by the Club Andino Bariloche.


The first half of my trip to Frey I was solo, my regular climbing partner from Rio was showing up in a few days and I needed to find a partner in the meantime. I was lucky to hook up with two great partners; Maurissio, a mountain guide on El Tronador volcano, who was on vacation doing some rock climbing, and Joao, a Brasilian from Florianopolis.


Maurissio and I warmed up on a couple routes on Aguja Frey and the next day did a route on the east face of the Torre Principal called Sarandonga y Chicharrones (5-6p, f6b+). It was a nice intro to the tower climbing of Frey. It was a good route and was mostly out of the wind, which can be quite strong.


A couple days later, I hooked up with a Brasilian friend, Joao, and we did a route on the west face of the Torre Principal called Sinestro Total (7-8p, f6b). The Sinestro takes a mostly direct line up the sweeping west face of the peak and features a small pendulum after the second pitch. The quality of the rock on the route is as good as it gets in the alpine and the climbing, although sustained, is quite reasonable throughout, being mostly solid 5.10 jamming on perfect splitters. It is definitely up there on my all-time favorites. I got to lead the beautiful head-wall pitch, a steep, stunning 45m fist crack. We were blessed with a perfect, almost windless day, rare on that side of the tower, which is usually blasted from the west winds.


In addition to some of the longer routes, I cragged a lot with my friend from Rio, Daniel who was new to alpine climbing, drank the great micro-brew they serve at the Refugio, and generally had a good time. I spent almost 2 weeks there and we climbed almost every day. The approaches are longish, by Squamish standards, but are not so bad. Frey is a fun alpine playground where you never feel too far out on a limb and the established routes will keep you busy for months.


This was my first trip to Patagonia and I am in love, with the places, the people and the climbing. Next year I will stay longer and hopefully have enough time to head south. If you are interested in any particulars give me a PM.


Bariloche from the air, El Tronador volcano in the back


Start of the Trail


Some trail scenes


First view of the towers


Aguja Frey


Refugio sign and the Torre Principal


Approaching the Principal


Maurissio and the Principal, East Face


P1 Sarandonga


me leading P3 Sarandonga


Principal Summit


Joao on Aguja M2


Refugio and the Towers


Joao warming up for the start of the Sinestro Total


Pitch 4, Sinestro


Me leading on the headwall


Joao leading the big traverse near the summit


another Principal summit


Tormentia, the Refugio kitten


La Vieja, Daniel and I did a route here. Michelle and Martin, the Canmorians visible on the first pitch of Sudafrican.


Daniel walking on snow for the first time


The payoff, Daniel and the Climbers Combo.


Gear Notes:


The rack I carried worked well and was heavy on thin gear; triple yellow aliens, double greens and a single blue and doubles from #.5 to #2 Camalot and a #3 and #4, stoppers and a 70m cord(very useful linking pitches and for the descents). If you need more usually there are folks around to get the odd extra-piece. The rock is mostly bomber and is only run-out on the easier bolted face routes. Take lots of sunscreen and zinc-oxide…. I’m relatively dark-skinned in general and I got pretty burned up there….don’t underestimate the Patagonian sun. Don't forget to take your little gourd thingy for drinking Mate whilst furtively glancing about.



Approach Notes:


Trail up to the Refugio, most climbs are a hour or so hike from there.

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Thanks for sharing that.Excellent trip report and great photos. It's breaking my heart!


I spent a month in Bariloche last year with my wife, including two visits to Frey for rock climbing; it's undoubtedly some of the best climbing of it's type I've ever done, with the Refugio experience only adding to it. Nothing like splitter granite all day, huge plate of pasta, a fine Malbec, and some good conversation by night.

But hey, what happened to "Dracu", the psycho kitty? Tormentia looks like a new one.

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Nice. I have been to Argentina a number of times, but never Bariloche region. Your report only adds to the body of evidence that I must go there! Thanks for the nice report and the pics.


Argentines are great people too, and the food and the wine.. That's the good life. Cheers to you!

Edited by crazy_t
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  • 7 years later...

Yes I am bringing this back to life...excellent TR by the way. I'm just wondering if anyone knows what difficulties there are traversing from the Argentina summit to the International summit on Tronador. I can't seem to find any good info about that traverse. I know the route to the Argentina Summit is straightforward, but I want to top out.

Thanks for any info,


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I haven't been to either summit so can't answer your question directly. Rolando Garibotti is very knowledgeable about Patagonia routes and can answer your question. Rolo is as unselfish as they come when it comes to sharing beta and helping other climbers. You can email him at rgaribotti@aol.com. I also know two guides in the Bariloche area that I can put you in touch with if you can't reach him. Both will be happy to help.

I have a topo map of Tronador and can send you a scan if you wish, however, it shows almost no detail on the route in question. I had hoped to solo the Argentine summit, but turned around halfway up the glacier from Refugio Otto Meiling when I realized it wasn't as moderate a route as I had hoped for soloing. (My bar is pretty low. For others it would be fine.) I took the photo below from Glacier Castano Overa, on the standard route to the Argentine summit, and it shows Pico Anon, the International summit. The Argentine summit is off to the right. If you look closely you can see a tiny spec visible in the sun on the saddle to the left of the International summit. It's a small shelter so I assume that would be on the route.


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