The Patagonia Mountain range is located in South America and takes up about 300,000 square miles of land between Chile and Argentina. Patagonia is home to some of the most beautiful mountains in the world and hosts its own variety of wildlife, including 60 species of mammals, 400 birds, 27 fish, and 52 reptiles and amphibians. The tallest peak in Patagonia is Monte San Valentin which is 13,314 feet above sea level. Most of the mountains in the region receive snowfall throughout the winter months of June-August, and there are great inbounds and backcountry skiing options.
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A few months ago, in November 2020, a group of five skiers made the first descent down Monte San Valentin. The group of skiers consisted of “Raimundo De Andraca, Antonio Eguiguren, Sebastian Rojas, Nicolas Valderrama and Galo Viguera”. They began their trek in a window of ideal weather and took the standard route to the top. Finally, they “skied a 1300m [4265ft] line down the south face, making just one 30m abseil on an icy section towards the end.” This line is the first of its kind and requires expert climbing, mountaineering, and skiing skills.
On top of this groundbreaking descent, Raimundo De Andraca took Rojas down to a more southern part of Chile to complete another line that would be the first of its kind. Cerro Alto de Los Arrieros is the “southernmost 5000er in South America” and features an abundance of terrain such as cliffs, chutes, and rock bands. Camping here for the better part of a month, the group made sure to thoroughly scope out the mountain’s features before going for their mainline. They set up camps and rode multiple shallower, more tame runs down the mountain. Finally, after a perfectly priming snowstorm, “they climbed to the summit and skied the beautiful vertical ramp down the East Face of the mountain.” The first descent on skis from the summit of Cerro Alto de Los Arrieros was a success.
These recent descents on skis down Monte San Valentin and Cerro Alto de Los Arrieros are massively influential and will leave a lasting impact on backcountry skiing in South America. The expertise required to ride either of these lines is unparalleled, but it is now likely that more skiers will attempt them. De Andraca and his group will always be remembered as Patagonian pioneers who stepped up and completed several difficult lines that had never been done before.