American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentine Patagonia, Torrecita Tito Carrasco, First Ascent, and Cerro Pollone, West Pillar, A Fine Piece

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Torrecita Tito Carrasco, First Ascent, and Cerro Pollone, West Pillar, A Fine Piece. In November, 1999, I went back to Patagonia with Jim Donini with no fixed objectives but hopeful of finding some good unclimbed terrain above the Marconi Glacier. Armed with info provided by my hero, Rolando Garibotti, and after some reconnaissance, we settled on a pair of decent prospects.

At our first opportunity, we climbed a beautiful virgin tower that is the first peak on the ridge north of the main summit of Cerro Pollone and named it “Torrecita Tito Carrasco” in honor of a friend of Jim’s wife, Angela. Tito died in Angela’s arms after he was struck by rockfall while sport climbing at El Portrero Chico, Mexico, in 1997. We followed the path of least resistance with sections of snow, ice and mixed, capped by a few nice pitches of moderate rock. The last few meters of rime and rock to the absolute summit were spicy. In all, an excellent day outing.

A week or so later we got a second opportunity and went after the West Pillar of Cerro Pollone, which had been attempted by Michel Piola and Daniel Anker of Switzerland some years before. We took two days and 16 pitches to get to the top of the pillar, which featured tons of high-angle free climbing on superb rock. The summit view from the top of the pillar is astonishing: all the peaks of the Fitz Roy massif, an incredible angle on Cerro Torre, both the east and west faces of Piergorgio, and stunning views out over the ice cap—probably the best I’ve had in Patagonia.

After limited discussion over a quart of whisky decanted into a plastic Coke bottle, we decided to name the climb A Fine Piece, as revenge for the gruesomely politically correct name Greenpeace, a nearby route that an Italian team did up the nose of Piergorgio’s west face. I whole-heartedly recommend A Fine Piece to anyone interested in an alternative to the madding crowds on Cerro Torre’s Compressor Route or on Fitz Roy’s Franco-Argentine route. A Fine Piece has a very straightforward approach, much less objective hazard than that found on the approaches to those standard routes on Fitz or Torre, lots of quality freeclimb-ing, several killer bivy ledges and a better summit view. I think the whole route would go free with just a few short sections of 5.11 (and maybe not even that). The right team should be able to peel the whole thing off in a single day.

Greg Crouch

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