American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Cerro Standhardt, Punta Herron, Torre Egger, Traverse

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Cerro Standhardt, Punta Herron, Torre Egger, traverse. I came to Patagonia this year with the primary goal of climbing Torre Egger. After a month of bad weather, at the beginning of February Stefan Siegrist and I made our first attempt. We started at night for the col between Standhardt and Bifida, traversed the great ramp on the east face of Standhardt, and reached the icy gully of Tobogan (Garibotti-Karo, 1999) after two raps. We climbed Tobogan and at sunrise stood on the Col dei Sogni, between Standhardt and Punta Herron. Hours later we reached the summit of Herron via Spigolo dei Bimbi (Cavallaro-Salvaterra-Vidi, 1991), but wind and bad conditions forced us to descend without standing on the great peak named Torre Egger.

Stefan went home, but I had four more weeks. Eventually I partnered with Andi Schnarf (Switzerland) and 22 year-old Rok Zalokar (Slovenia). The three of us made an attempt, starting as I did with Stefan, but after Herron we descended Tobogan to the serac, traversed it to the left, then followed the Italian Route (De Dona-Giongo, 1980) on Egger (a lot of old ropes and fixed gear up to the col). This attempt ended 20m below the summit of Egger. We could feel it, we were almost there, but warm conditions made it impossible to climb the final icy mushroom. No Egger, I thought, not this year.

Although another weather window materialized a week later, I had no real motivation for Egger again. Instead, Andi and I climbed Cerro Standhardt via Festerville (5.11, Martin-O’Neill, 2000), starting at 2 a.m. and gaining the summit at 3 p.m. Conditions were much better than the week before; a little colder, the ice a little better. Egger looks great from there. I saw a glow in Andi’s eyes and knew his thoughts were the same as mine. Three hours later we reached the Col dei Sogni, the col of dreams, and my thoughts and dreams where one summit ahead, on the Egger!

We reached the summit of Punta Herron at sunset for its fifth ascent (sixth, if the Italians actually did make the first), including my ascents with Stefan and with Andi and Rok. We tried to sleep at the col between Herron and Egger, but it was too cold. (We called it the Col de Lux, feeling privileged to name it because we think we were the first humans on it, We found no trace of the Italians here or above, in contrast to all of the fixed ropes and gear below.) We started climbing at 4 a.m., via a great 5.10 slab with bad protection on a cold and windy night. The climbing got easier, and the ice on the mushroom was better than it had been a week before. At 7:30 a.m. my dream became reality: we were on the top of Egger. We could see the footsteps of Dean Potter and Steph Davis, who had reached the summit the day before.

Descending, via Titanic, wasn’t much fun, but once back in Noruegos camp, Dean, Steph, and I clasped our worked hands in celebration. We still couldn’t believe that we climbed our big dream! But the dreams will go on.

I extend special thanks to Karl Gabl from Innsbruck, Austria, who gave us perfect weather forecasts. All Patagonia climbers benefited from them. Karl was the real hero in this season of Patagonia climbing!

Thomas Huber, Germany

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