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South America, Tierra del Fuego, Argentine Patagonia, Attempts and Ascents

Argentine Patagonia, Attempts and Ascents. My objective was to attempt the unclimbed west face of Torre Egger with two French climbers, David Autheman and Antoine Noury, and a Norwegian climber, Trym Saeland. When Trym and I arrived at Base Camp, David and Antoine were already there. They had used two days of good weather to start fixing a route on a sub-pillar of Cerro Stanhardt (see description of their efforts above). This took the west face of Torre Egger out of our plans, because they had used a number of bolts on fixing the sub-pillar. With the bolts we had left, we felt Torre Egger’s west face would be impossible.

After another four weeks of waiting out bad weather, Trym and I decided to attempt the route Todo o Nada (5.9 A1 WI5X) on El Mocho during a marginal weather day. The formation was sheltered and low enough that we were able to summit. The climbing was scary because it had been warm and we were often on vertical snow, not ice.

After climbing El Mocho, Trym and I attempted a continuous push on Cerro Torre that was stopped in the middle of the night as bad weather moved in. We descended to our advanced base camp of the Norwegian Bivy the next morning and rested all day and night. With the next day came a half day of good weather, which allowed us to reach pitch 12 of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre. By that time we were in a very bad storm and ended up having to bivy without bivy gear when our rappel ropes got stuck. I made one failed attempt at Exocet on Cerro Stanhardt with Charlie Fowler during another too-brief half-day spell of good weather. On January 10, 1999, I began my return journey to Seattle. Trym Saeland stayed on and was rewarded with an ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre with Warren Hollinger and Russ Mitrovich.

My sincere thanks to the Mountaineering Fellowship Fund Grant Committee for the grant that helped finance this trip to Argentine Patagonia.

Miles Smart