Beckner/Anderson/Spaulding—East Face of El Lonko, Argentine Patagonia
An American team comprised of Josh Beckner, Jared Spaulding, Dave Anderson successfully completed a first ascent on a 3,000 foot wall in the remote Piritas Valley of the upper Rio Turbio drainage in Argentina. In 2008 Beckner explored the region and caught a glimpse of a large granite wall. On February 26, 2009 the team crossed Lago Puelo by boat and hired a local gaucho to transport their gear 20 miles by horseback. "Suffering" from sunburn, due to the exceptional weather, the trio established a gear cache and the convergence of the Rio Turbio and Turbio Quatro Rivers. They spent the next week hauling their gear along the Rio Turbio through the dense stands of bamboo-like cana colihue which required the use of machetes to negotiate the rugged terrain.
After reaching the base of the formation, the Americans chose to ascend a striking line on the right side of the wall. They started their ascent on March 9, but before reaching the proper base of the tower they had to travel through 1500 feet of "approach" terrain which included several 5th class pitches up to 5.11 and a small steep snowfield. The route initially followed a sweeping dihedral that turned out to be the crux of the climb (5.11). From there the team followed a series of cracks on the left side of the wall. When the crack system ended a short pendulum provided access to a splitter hand crack and another corner system. The cloudless sky and sunny aspect of the cliff caused temperatures to rise close to 80 F, necessitating the third climber to jug while hauling extra water. Due to the lengthy and complex approach, the trio was caught by darkness four pitches from the top and bivied on a tiny "butt" ledge for the night. Fortunately the weather held and Beckner, Spaulding and Anderson topped out the next morning. After one rappel down the south side of the formation the team was able to scramble around to the north and down climb (4th and easy 5th class) a series of complicated slabs, rappel across a snow field and returned to their high camp in 6 hours after summiting. Overall the Americans ascended 2,200 feet of roped climbing. The rock was excellent fine grained granite with a host of cracks systems mostly tips to hands in size. They named to route Voces en la Noche, V 5.11 A0 (Voices in the Night) for the unexplainable human voices heard by all the climbers during the ascent, most likely produced by the hundreds of waterfalls echoing throughout the valley.
Heavy rain on the hike out provided challenging river crossings and the mandatory use of a sketchy tyrolean. Back at their base camp the Beckner, Spaulding and Anderson packed up their gear and loaded it into 2 tiny "K-mart" style inflatable rafts, equipped with hand made paddles, and floated out along the Rio Turbio to Lago Puelo to completed their adventure in 17 days.