American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre Massifs, Various Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2005

Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massifs, various ascents. Between mid-January and early March a young team of Slovene climbers, including me, visited the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massifs, spending a total of 40 days accomplishing a series of important ascents.

On January 24 Rok Zalokar, Aljaz Tratnik, and I tried to climb the Casarotto Route (Casarotto, solo, 1979) on Fitz Roy, but finding poor snow conditions on the glacier and approach couloirs, as well as ice-covered rock, we returned to Chalten to drink a beer and have a few days of rest.

On our second attempt, on January 29, we started from Paso at 2 a.m. and, finding good snow, reached the “jammed block” at the base of the Goretta Pillar by 7 a.m. We started climbing at 8 a.m. and by 3 p.m. reached the tenth pitch of the Kearney-Knight variation to the Casarotto Route. We felt that our pace for a team of three was not bad and therefore decided to climb the Chimichurri y Tortas Fritas (Locher-Pedrini, 1985) variation on the upper west side of the pillar. After a few unsuccessful attempts to find the right line, we bivied. The following day we climbed our own variation (400m, 7a A1), following a crack system just right of Chimichurri y Tortas Fritas, to the top of the pillar, which we reached by 3 p.m. Icy cracks slowed our pace above, as we continued on toward the summit of Fitz Roy. We made a second bivy 200m below the summit, which we reached the following morning by 10 a.m. We descended via the Franco-Argentine, traversing the mountain and returning to Paso Superior by 5 p.m.

Our ascent was done in alpine style, with no fixed ropes. We called our new variation on the upper half of the pillar the “Young Jerks” (400m). Ours was the fourth ascent of the Goretta Pillar to the top of Fitz Roy [Previous ascents: Casarotto 1979, Kearney-Knight 1984, Harvey- Donahue 1993—Ed.] One day later, British Leo Houlding and Kevin Thaw made the 5th ascent.

Around the same time, Aljaz Tratnik and Jason Lakey (USA) climbed the Red Pillar (Albert-Arnold, 1999) on the east face of Aguja Mermoz but were turned back two pitches below the top by strong winds. Later Rok Zalokar, Aljaz Tratnik and Tanja Grmovsek (Slovenia) climbed the Italian Route (Buscaini-Candot-Metzeltin-Romano-Sinigoi, 1968) on east face of Aguja Saint Exupery.

Later yet, Klemen Mali and I climbed Guillamet and traversed south along the ridge to the col between Guillaumet and Mermoz. [Guillaumet had been traversed by Carrington and Rouse in 1976 (from north to south) and by Bresba, Dominguez, and Luthi in 1990 (from south to north)—Ed.] From the col we climbed Mermoz via the first ascent route (Cuiñas-Olaechea- Vieiro, 1974) to reach the summit. By adding the Mermoz, this was the first link up of Aguja Guillaumet and Aguja Mermoz. From the base of Guillaumet’s northeast pillar (Paso Guillaumet) to the summit of Mermoz took us 11.5 hours.

Everything was a great experience, with great climbs and good parties in Chalten.

Rok Sisernik, Ljubljana, Slovenia

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