Chalten massif, summary. The 2008-09 season had only one extended period of good weather, for almost two weeks in early December. Surprisingly, in spite of such a prolonged window, little new or “creative” climbing was done. The two most significant new ascents, a waterfall below Glaciar Superior and a link-up on Cerro Torre are described in reports below.
That said, the big news was that the Ragni di Lecco Route on the west face of Cerro Torre had six ascents (19 climbers), more than all previous ascents of the route combined. In contrast, the season saw only one ascent of the Compressor Route. It is as if overnight everyone stopped climbing Everest with oxygen, fixed rope, and Sherpa support. While Maestri’s hundreds of bolts remain in place, the climbing community appears to have finally given them a cold shoulder. The list of non-Compressor Route ascents of Cerro Torre has now grown to 14.
Among the many ascents of the Ragni route, on December 9 Swiss guide Walter Hunger- buhler completed the route’s first solo (Cerro Torre’s four previous solos were all via the Compressor Route), and German Doerte Pietron became the first woman to climb the route.
In two days in December, Colin Haley and I repeated the Care Bear Traverse (Drum- mond-Wilkinson, 2008). We climbed much of the way with young Argentines Jorge Ackermann and Tomy Aguilo, who completed it right behind us in two and a half days. With more than 50 pitches of immaculate rock from Guillaumet to Fitz Roy, and with no objective danger, it is one of the best rock climbs in the area.
On the north face of Fitz Roy in January 2009, Slovenes Boris Lorencic and Urban Azman made the second complete ascent of Tehuelche, climbing alpine-style from base to summit in
44 hours. Italian Marco Sterni and partners put up the line in 1986, using many fixed ropes and retreating 150m from the top. Doug Byerly and I completed the route in a 32-hour alpine-style effort in 1996.
Also noteworthy was Colin Haley’s solo ascent of Supercanaleta on January 7. His was the route’s second solo, and the ninth solo ascent of Fitz Roy. Later in the season there were a few repeats of classic routes such as the Supercanaleta and Franco-Argentine, as well as a few minor variations on some of the smaller towers. Jer Collins, Renan Ozturk, and Cedar Wright climbed a likely new line on El Mochito, reporting excellent, sustained climbing and calling it No Bad Weather (IV 5.11+ R).
On a side note, the seasons within the climbing season have become far more marked in the last few years. In January and February the mountains warm up and dry out (usually), making certain objectives very dangerous due to rockfall. For example, the approach gully to the Franco-Argentine is often Russian roulette in late summer, and the ice ramp on the classic Whillans route on Poincenot all but disappears. Climbers should beware and choose their objectives accordingly.
Rolando Garibotti, AAC