American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina-Chilean Patagonia, Cerro Torre Attempt from the South

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

Cerro Torre Attempt from the South. Englishman Andy Parkin and Frenchman François Marsigny hoped to climb Cerro Torre by a new route by reaching the Collado de Esperanza (Col of Hope) between Cerro Torre and Adela Norte from the south side and then continuing up the west face of the peak. They began their climb before midnight on February 22, 1994 and headed up a 750-meter-high couloir, the first two-thirds of which was threatened by falling ice from the top of the face. They took the right branch of the couloir where it divided, hoping to be protected from falling ice, but that proved to be a dead end. They descended to the fork and sat out the daylight hours, somewhat sheltered from falling debris. At nightfall, they continued up the left branch and encountered sections of perpendicular granite covered with thin ice. They arrived at the col in the morning as a storm broke, which trapped them in a snow cave for three days. On the fifth day of their climb, with dwindling food and with slightly better weather, they decided to continue upwards and in a few hours climbed to the top of the Casco (Helmet), a high point on the ridge, from which they would have had to make a rappel to get to the final 350-meter-high top headwall. After another bivouac in deteriorating weather and now without food, they decided instead to rappel back to the col and to descend the west side to the Southern Continental Icecap. Rappel after rappel finally brought them to the nearly flat icecap. They headed south and staggered on, weakened by having no food. Although they had hoped to be able to cross to the eastern slope by way of the Paso del Viento, some 15 kilometers to the south, in the doubtful weather they missed the pass and continued on to the Glaciar Viedma and eventually to the shores of Lago Viedma, a journey of possibly 40 kilometers. This painful hunger march took them another three days before they found food and shelter at the Estancia Santa Fe on the ninth day. For this climb, they were awarded the Piolet d Or for 1994 by the Groupe de Haute Montagne. An article by Parkin appears on pages 32 to 38 of High of September, 1994.

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