Mount San Lorenzo, protected area

E-mail Print
 
A few months ago, the Ministry of National Property announced the declaration of a protected area, the Mount San Lorenzo area, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina just to the south of Cochrane. This was subsequently ratified by the president of Chile.  
 
Aysen Senator Antonio Horvath, who appears to be the person behind this initiative, in turn justified the effort with the requests of the geologist and mountaineer Silvia Metzeltin, who with her husband Gino Buscaini (RIP) undoubtedly are perhaps the most knowledgeable persons about the area. Their book, "Patagonia: A Magic Land for Trekkers and Climbers," is highly recommended reading.
 
No doubt that San Lorenzo for some time has deserved such a designation. The quality of its landscape, geology and spectacular mountains are overwhelming. Its probably better known among the world´s climbers and mountaineers than it is among the people of its own region.

Mount San Lorenzo is the second highest peak in the Patagonian Andes, rising to 3,706 meters and consists of a granite colossus, part of the "Patagonian Batholith,” covered with glaciers. In several of its vertical sides it shows stunning pink and yellow walls, highlights which are observed from the Pampa (east) and from Camp De Agostini from the north side.
 
Not until 1955, were Gross, Corbella and Krings, also of the CAB, able to repeat the feat. In January 1986, South Africans Fatti, Müller, Padding and Bolcker made a first ascent along the eastern ridge, that would be repeated by C. Ferrari (another of the leading climbers in Patagonia) in 1987. In December 1986, Silvia Metzeltin became the first woman on the summit. Only on February 2, 1996, was San Lorenzo first summited by Chileans: Ian Philippi Calvo and Claudio Seebach Speiser of German Club Andino. The first Chilean woman was Vivian Cuq, in January 2000. The first climber from Aysen to reach the summit was Marcelo Mascareño, who got there together with Lindsay Holmstron and Sam Esmiol (RIP) on December 3, 1998.
 
Some of this information can be reviewed in notes left behind by the climbers in Camp De Agostini, which is conserved in a shelter of sticks built decades ago. (There is also a new, similar shelter, the result of a tragedy on top in March 2000), and located in the forest on the banks of the San Lorenzo estuary beneath the stunning north face of the mountain. Lucy Gomez and Luis Soto of Fundo San Lorenzo can also provide historic background, who sometimes act as friendly tour guides and facilitate the current mountaineering life on the mountain with horse transport and food on the Chilean side. They can be reached most evenings on shortwave frequency 3180 at 8 p.m. To get to the region,  take the road "San Lorenzo" from Cochrane that goes along the banks of Del Salto and Tranquilo rivers.
 
There also exists an historical log of first ascents, kept by a neighbor in Río Tranquilo, Pedro Munoz, who has promised to return or deliver it to the Cochrane Library or regional library.

The truth is that the San Lorenzo area deserves more than one visit and the summit as well, as I am fully aware of from the expeditions undertaken by my German friends, K.Rudolf, M. Altmann, T. Heidebüchel, G, Karsh, A. Pfefferkorn, with whom on the second attempt and after several days on the ice, we arrived to the summit in January 2002. It would be the 19th ascent of this beautiful mountain, which dominates the landscape along with San Valentin and Fitz Roy, apart from the string of nearby lakes and other towering peaks, many of them unclimbed. 
 
Finally, as we celebrate and welcome this new protected area of undeniable value, we also note that the dump planned by HidroAysen on the banks of the San Lorenzo is likely what prompted this move, which is part of an attempt to add to the indicative map of the National Property Ministry per instructions of President Pinera in order to " establish which areas in Chile are suitable for power plants and what areas must always be protected as nature sanctuaries."
 
One must ask if it was so easy and quick to declare this new protected area then why does the government take so long to enact the agreement reached some months ago by the National Monuments Council regarding Paso San Carlos National Monument? Sill further, why is it taking several years to send to the United Nations Education and Science Organization (UNESCO) the papers nominating the Patagonia Ice Fields and Archipelago as a World Heritage Site, which has been stuck in some ministry office since Chile´s national park service (CONAF) prepared the paperwork in 2007.