American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia, Argentina, Chalten Massif, Cerro Torre, The Long Run; and Cerro Standhardt, Extreme Emotions

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Cerro Torre, The Long Run; and Cerro Standhardt, Extreme Emotions. On Janurary 3, 2006, Stephen Koch and I went to Chalten and the next day to the Agostini/Bridwell Base Camp at Laguna Torre. The weather was unstable, as described in many Patagonian reports. Our first idea was the Marsigny-Parkin to the Ferrari route to the summit of Cerro Torre. At the Noruegos camp we met Dean Potter, who was waiting for weather to improve. He wanted to BASE jump from Cerro Torre. After we returned to BC together, I suggested that Dean join us on the climb. He was happy to.

After several days of bad weather we returned to Noruegos, but on the way up the glacier we noticed that conditions on the Marsigny-Parkin were not good for safe and fast climbing, so we decided on a route we’d previously considered as a second option.

On January 17 we started to climb from the glacier up the 250m El Mochito via new

ground (F6a), and then joined the Piola-Anker route on El Mocho to reach its top. We used a single rope, the leader climbed without a pack, and the seconds carried small packs. We were climbing fast and started to rappel down the north side of El Mocho around midday, when the weather turned bad. After 150m of rappels we climbed snow and ice slopes toward the Col of Patience and luckily missed a big wind- slab avalanche. The crux of this section was a steep mixed pitch 150m below the col. It took me almost an hour to free-climb it, though I took a fall on the exit slab: my first leader fall in the mountains in ten years. Very interesting and challenging pitch with wet snow and rotten ice.

We reached the Col of Patience in unmotivating weather and spent an uncomfortable, wet, cold night in a crevasse, before descending in the wind and rain the morning of the 18th. At Noruegos the next day, the weather improved.

On January 20 we started again with the same idea and same tactics. Before dawn we climbed El Mochito and at 1 p.m. reached the Col of Patience, where we rested and prepared water before continuing up the Compressor Route. The climbing there is nice, and we found plenty of mixed sections before complete darkness set in, two pitches below the ice towers. The weather had been perfect—no wind and no clouds. After midnight we cut a small ledge in an ice bridge [a short snow/ice feature linking the tower and the headwall] under the headwall, where we sat and prepared water. At first light we started climbing the headwall and the infamous bolting monument, reaching the windy summit around 1 p.m. We spent more than an hour taking pictures and looking for a good BASE jump spot, but Dean decided that Cerro Torre isn’t steep enough for a safe jump and joined us for 10 hours of a more “classic” descent of the Compressor Route.

On January 29 Stephen and I went up to study some possibilities on Torre Standhardt, finding an interesting new line on the bottom half of the east face. At first light the next morning we started up the rock buttress just left of Tomahawk, following steep cracks and logical passages. Atop pitch eight we rappelled 15m into a deep chimney, which we climbed in “interesting mixed conditions. It was late in the afternoon, and a small waterfall ran over the steepest section, where the ice was thin and rotten. At the top of the chimney, luckily we caught the last half hour of sun. We waited there until 3 a.m. for cold temperatures before continuing. In the dark, windy morning with fog, we missed the start of the Exocet chimney, but soon found the right way and climbed Exocet to the summit ridge, where we noticed that the weather had gone (wind, clouds, rain). However, the cold temperatures kept the ice in place. We continued up one short rock pitch to the summit snow and ice. It took two more ropelengths to reachthe bottom of the summit mushroom. The 30m mushroom was quite challenging, due to poor snow conditions on the upper half. It took me almost an hour to reach the top, at 3 p.m. February 1.

The descent was a story in itself; we were under time pressure because we had a bus to catch early on the morning of February 3, and a flight that same day. We rappelled, and after about eight rappels our rope stuck, and the sheath was destroyed. We had to climb back 150m to the ramp on Exocet, by which we descended. We reached the couloir at midnight and continued the descent with 30m rappels. We made it to our tent at Noruegos around 4 a.m., slept for four hours, and descended to BC.

It was interesting trip, with most of the elements an expedition needs to stay in my memory. We were motivated and ready to climb most of the possible climbing days, which were rich and intense with new experience.

Marko Prezelj, Slovenia

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