American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentine Patagonia, Cerro Torre, Various Activity

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

Cerro Torre, Various Activity. Beside the ascent mentioned above, the Compressor Route saw only one other repeat this season: Heinz Zak, Peter Janschek and Elmar Springer (Austria) climbed it on February 21. The Austrians as well as the Americans climbed the summit mushroom. See the article by O’Neill for more details on these climbs.

In October, 1999, Ermanno Salvaterra and Mauro Mabboni (Italy) established a new variation to the Compressor Route. From the base of Maestri’s infamous 60-meter bolt traverse, they continued straight, following the obvious line of weakness up the edge of Cerro Torre’s southwest spur. This line had previously been attempted by Jose Luis Fonrouge (Argentina), Pete Crew, Dougal Haston, Martin Boysen and Mick Burke (UK) in early 1968. The Anglo-Argentinean team had managed to climb one and a half pitches from the bolt traverse and were on their second pitch where Haston dropped the bolt kit, a mistake that forced them to give up their attempt. Salvaterra and Mabonni climbed five new pitches before rejoining the Compressor Route at the base of the so-called Ice Towers (at the height of the prominent rightward ice traverse). The climbing involves some A2 and aesthetic free climbing along the spur’s edge (6a+). They spent nearly seven days on the mountain and were forced to retreat not far from the summit due to bad weather. They climbed alpine style with a portaledge.

The West Face (Ferrari) route saw a number of fine efforts. Miyasaki Motohiko and Suizi Mikio (Japan) repeated the route on November 7, 1999. They climbed from their camp at Filo Rosso (Hielo Continental) to the formation known as the Helmet. The following day, they climbed to the vicinity of the last rime formations below the summit mushroom, where a wide crevasse proved impassable. Forced to retreat, they returned back down to the Helmet the same day. Then a fierce storm moved in and for four days they were unable to descend, having to bivouac without sleeping bags or food. It was not until the November 12 that they managed to descend to Filo Rosso, but upon arriving they were unable to find the entrance to their snow cave due to the large amount of new snow and were forced to bivouac outside one more time. This was, according to them, a “death bivy,” and they suffered some frostbite in their hands and feet. The next morning they managed to dig out their cave, where they rested for more than a week before they moved out.

Jimmy Surrette and Charlie Fowler made an ascent of the route on January 13. Unlike other parties for this climb, they made their Base Camp at Campo Bridwell in the Torre Valley (the east side), rather than at the Filo Roso (below the face to the west). They retreated from the foot of a steep rime formation, 40 meters below the plateau at the base of the summit mushroom. Mick Poynton and Leigh McGinley (U.K.) climbed the route from the Circo de los Altares in February, 2000. Leigh went snowblind on the descent, thinking he had lost his glasses, when in fact they were still in his pack! They retreated from the same place as had Surrette and Fowler.

Rolando Garibotti, Club Andino Bariloche

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