“We were only the second group that made it to the summit of Cerro Largo. When you just imagine to be just the second on a summit in the world, it is really quite a privilege to be able to stand at the top.”
— Robert Jasper | LOWA PRO Team
The first non-stop ascent of Cerro Largo
Chile LOWA PRO Team athlete Robert Jasper’s expedition last year took him to a sea of white – Patagonia’s ice sheet. Together with mountain guide Jörn Heller, sport scientist Dr. Andreas Thomann, and outdoor photographer Klaus Fengler, the team headed out in October 2019. Fengler had travelled with Jasper on his Greenland expedition in 2018.
Many pro athletes consider nearly unexplored and untouched icy landscapes the measure of all things. When it’s time to plan the next expedition, for many exceptional athletes it just can’t be untouched enough. Patagonia’s northern ice sheet is that kind of place – a white expanse on the map that doesn’t have much to offer except kilometres of icy expanses and ice-covered summits. But that was precisely what became the deciding factor for Robert Jasper and his team.
In October 2019 the four-person team with Jasper, Heller, Thomann and Fengler headed off to Chile. From Puerto Bertrand they then headed by boat across the Lago Plomo lake into the Val Soler Valley that stretches many kilometres along the ice sheet. The approach took them through the wilderness and a cold rain forest until they reached the location for their basecamp after four days. What Robert and his comrades didn’t know yet at this point is that they would be passing a lot of time in this basecamp.
Untouched countryside also always has a critical disadvantage: Existing information about the terrain and current maps are either a rare commodity or filled with errors, here too in part because of the quickly advancing glacial melt. Add to that the huge amounts of ice breaking up and crevasses that made forward progress even more difficult. These conditions forced the athletes to make frequent plan and route changes. The weather too was showing its harsh side. Fierce storms with heavy rain and snowfall meant persevering in basecamp again and again and thus losing time.
After a total of four weeks in the wilds and six attempts at an ascent, LOWA PRO Team athlete Robert Jasper and his team still had not been able to climb the chosen peak, Cerro Largo (2,799 metres). The intended timing was being completed destroyed – so much so that provisions were starting to be thin and had to be rationed in order to have any kind of chance at all. And then came the chance: On the last possible day for an ascent, a window of good weather seemed to be indicated. “We went for broke to climb Cerro Largo in a so-called “single-push style” with light gear. First on skis, then on ice that was steeper and steeper and, at the end, over vertical rime ice mushrooms created by the wind”, said the pro alpinist about the conditions not exactly lacking in danger since a mistake in these conditions was always possible. But notwithstanding all adversities, they did it – they reached the summit.
In a total of 18 hours, Jasper, Heller, Thomann and Fengler made the round-trip from basecamp and back, covering just about 50 kilometres and 5,000 metres of vert. With that, they were the first team to climb Cerro Largo non-stop.
“We went for broke to climb Cerro Largo in a so-called ‘single-push style’ with light gear. First on skis, then on ice that was steeper and steeper and, at the end, over vertical rime ice mushrooms created by the wind. For those conditions, I used the ALPINE ICE GTX.”
- 4 weeks
- 5 km