Pete Whittaker and Sean Villanueva conquer icy offwidth crack

Pete Whittaker and Sean Villanueva are repeating the Yacaré route (550m, 7a+) opened by Pedro and Tomás Odell earlier this month on the Aguja Rafael Juarez in Patagonia. The British-Belgian rope team managed to free climb all rope lengths for the first time.

An offwidth crack, exposed, icy and not yet free climbed: that sounds like the perfect challenge for the crack pro Pete Whittaker and Patagonia Specialist Sean Villanueva. A week after the first ascent through Pedro and Tomas Odell Do you have the first free ascent of the wild tour at the Aguja Rafael Juárez gesichert.

"The boys are only 19 and 16 years old and I was very impressed by some of their lead climbs on the lower half of the route, which is through loose and rough terrain."

Pete Whittaker
Route of Yacaré, first climbed by Pedro and Tomás Odell. Image: Patagonia vertical
Route of Yacaré, first climbed by Pedro and Tomás Odell. Picture: Patagonia vertical

A wide crack, icy and glazed

In alligator 200 meters of easier climbing lead to the vertical east face of Aguja Rafael Juarez, where four pitches later the key pitch awaits: an impressive off-width crack that has not yet been completely free climbed. "Since Sean also loves a good portion of off-width struggles, we wanted to give it a try," says Pete Whittaker.

"A third of the pitch was completely glassed, which meant that you had to do rip techniques like armbars, stacking or kneelocks on ice."

Pete Whittaker

The endeavor turned out to be quite challenging, especially since the crack was covered with a lot of ice in the wider sections. "The pitch turned out to be 60 meters of incredible climbing with a delicate movement on friction to connect the cracks."

Deep view of the 550-meter route Yacaré. Image: Pete Whittaker.
Deep view of the 550-meter route Yacaré. Picture: Pete Whittaker.

This is what offwidth climbing feels like in icy conditions

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Credits: Cover picture Pete Whittaker

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