Cerro Piergiorgio, West Face, All You Need is Love. Michel Bordet and I put up the tent at the foot of Piergiorgio: 600 to 900 meters high and two kilometers wide, one part facing northwest, the other, west. Both aspects had only one route.
A brief look at the west face and our route is traced, beginning with a small, 50-meter pillar beneath a large, 200-meter dihedral. Two hundred meters of compact slab lead to the dihedral, then 150 meters on an oblique, right-trending ramp and a 100-meter easy slope to the summit. The small pillar is quickly devoured, followed by an evening of hauling. The next four pitches on the compact slab are not of the same type; rather, they are high-angle industrial work.
A small, 5-mm hole, a 5-mm rivet. Toc toc toc… 60 meters of progress, six hours of work.
Four consecutive days, and all of it the same. The dihedral that follows is the reward: classic, very steep A1/A2 or 6a/6c/7a. The only catch in the dihedral story is the ice waterfall coming from the upper névé that melts on nice days and comes down on us at about 2:32 p.m. Without neoprene suits, we ring in our retreat, and we cry; it’s surreal. The weather is beautiful, not a breath of wind (very rare in this area) and we’re not climbing. Seated at the foot of this immense wall, we look up at the only trail of running water—right in our route. Who can have it in for us like that?
Another day passes despite everything, and Mich climbs under cover while I am in a shower at the belay. Two hours later, he leaves the dihedral behind; I, not far from hypothermia, join him. My companion warms me up with big slaps on the back. It is gorgeous out; the sun sets slowly. At 10 p.m., warmed up, I tackle the next pitch, which leads to the final slope. A few meters of IV and I go for a 25-meter traverse on rivets. At 2 a.m., I put in an anchor piton. At 6 a.m., after a “really great” night without bivy gear, Mich rotates his arms vigorously and embarks upon the next pitch, which should go quickly. This evening, if the weather holds, we’ll get out.
As regards the easy pitch, we find ourselves on a bobsled run; the rock is completely iced over.
Let’s go, one last effort, find the energy… 11th, 12th, 13th pitch…. At 3 p.m., the weather is still splendid, and we have left the difficulties behind. Our behinds in the air, we lap up water like two thirsty dogs (it’s been 40 hours since we last ate or drank) and laugh about our
We set down all of the gear and leave for the last sprint up the easy snow slopes. With a very professional hand, Super Mich carves out the last steps beneath the col. Summit. No, no, I don’t kiss him.
Hey, put on a little rimmel, and I’ll take a photo of you with Cerro Torre in the background.
Go on, turn around….
And already, it’s time to descend.
(The route, All You Need is Love [ED+ A3 5+, 700m], was finished on November 11, 1999; it lies to the right of the Greenpeace route. It involves two very distinct sections, the lower portion involving compact slabs that required lots of drilling [bathooks, rivets and bolts for five pitches] and the upper part that follows a very distinct dihedral. The pair fixed ropes to within 80 meters of the easy terrain leading to a col on the summit ridge, located some 80 meters below the summit itself, from which they descended.)
David Autheman, France