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South America, Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, Cerro Torre, First British Ascent

Cerro Torre, First British Ascent. Paul Morres (UK), Mark Wilford (US) and I (UK/US) found ourselves in Patagonia on October 25. I had climbed Fitz Roy 18 years earlier and was quite surprised to see the growth of the small village of Chalten. There are now bars and restaurants on the road- head. We left for Cerro Torre immediately and after reaching the Col of Patience and digging an ice cave the good weather came to an end. In descent there are two choices: a) rappel down the route of ascent (mixed ground with both snow and rock), or b) rappel the 1000-foot rock wall to the right of the ascent route. This is a purely rap-route (established during the 1994-1995 season by alpinist Robert Jasper) needing 60-meter ropes with two bolts at each hanging station. We began the latter. A bad idea. While the three of us hung from two bolts the rope pulled clear and then snagged way above. Mark jümared the rope; we climbed back up to the anchors and all ascended again. Descent was then made by the first option.

For two weeks it stormed, then on the morning of November 10 we left the Bridwell camp in brilliant weather. Austrians Max Berger and Alois Badegruber went with us to the Col in nine hours. Max climbed with Paul and I with Mark. Alois photographed our ascent from the col. On November 11 we all climbed up to the foot of the headwall (20 pitches) and bivied on two small ledges. The climb was in reasonable condition if icy. The next day we climbed the headwall and reached the summit around midday in deteriorating weather. The descent took seven hours, in storm, back to the col. We arrived back at the Bridwell camp on November 13 in time to meet an Italian trekking group led by the two old guys who had hauled the compressor up behind Maestri. It was the 25th Anniversary of the route’s first ascent.

Adrian Burgess, Alpine Climbing Group