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South America, Argentina-Chilean Patagonia, Cerro Torre, West Face Attempt, "Crystals in the Wind"

Cerro Torre, West Face Attempt, “Crystals in the Wind. ” On October 23, 1994, despite doubtful weather, Elio Orlandi, Odoardo Ravizza and I headed for the Southern Patagonian Icecap to wait out the weather in a snow cave. On October 27, a surprisingly serene morning spurred us on. After crossing the menacing crevasses below the imposing west faces of Cerro Stanhardt, Torre Egger and Cerro Torre, we began to climb the central spur that dominates the bottom of the wall. That line, though difficult, seems relatively safe, being somewhat sheltered from ice mushrooms and snow that might fall from southwest side where the 1974 Italian route rose. During the second night of the climb, the weather turned characteristically cold, windy and snowy, but fortunately not so bad that we couldn’t continue. We climbed on through snow squalls and up verglas; occasionally the sun broke through the frozen curtain of clouds. After four bivouacs and having climbed higher than the Col de la Conquista, on November 1 we ascended difficult cracks and dihedrals to the summit wall. We had climbed two-thirds of the face and had joined the 1959 Egger-Maestri route at a point just below the grandious summit mushrooms, possibly one or two pitches below them. Impetuous winds upset our balance and made us give up hope of surmounting the mushrooms to reach the actual summit. We were back at the foot of the wall on November 3. Almost all the climbing could be protected by Friends, stoppers and wires. Because of overhanging snow patches and unstable ice, we were forced to the left to the north spur on the final section and could not continue up the central dihedral.

Maurizio Giarolli, Club Alpino Italiano