AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia, Aguja Guillaumet, Rayo de Luz and Disfrute de la Vida

Cerro Torre, Spiral Route. Since my first visit to Patagonia, in 1998, I dreamed of linking the Marsigny-Parkin to the Ferrari (Ragni di Lecco) to the top of Cerro Torre, which was first done by Kelly Cordes and Colin Haley. I never had the opportunity to return until 2007, and when we finally got a weather window it was too warm and dangerous for us. So we left the dream and tried other routes.

Every time I walked to Niponino I looked up at Cerro Torre, and soon a new dream built. What about climbing the first part of the Southeast Ridge (Compressor Route), and then traverse the west face to the Ferrari? I was not the first to have this dream—others had dubbed the possible line the “Spiral”—but it was new to me.

So there I was again, this time with Ole Ivar Lied. Finally a good weather window arrived. Time to go.

Around noon November 28 we started from Niponino and climbed to the Shoulder. The next day we left our bivy at 6 a.m. I had been on the Compressor Route 10 years before, so I led the “familiar” ground. We moved pretty fast, but when we arrived to where we wanted to go directly up—we’d wanted to avoid the bolt ladders—we found a huge, dangerous snowpatch where we needed dry rock, so we used the long bolt traverse. After the traverse, Ole did a new pitch that took us to the south face. From here we rapped twice (short raps, we only had a 70m rope), before traversing not-too-steep ice around to the west side. What a wild place! After the traverse an easy mixed pitch took us to the top of the Helmet around 6 p.m. (we’d done 300-400m of new ground), where, due to falling ice, we stopped for the night. Perfect place, perfect weather, perfect partner, and the climbing ahead looked amazing—can it be better?

The next day gave us some of the most fantastic climbing we have been on, weaving through amazing features. The last pitch through the final mushroom was already opened by Rolo Garibotti and friends the day before, so it almost felt like cheating. Anyway, it was two very happy guys that topped out around noon that day. After a quick descent of the Compressor we returned to Niponino that night. We will never forget it.

Trym Atle Saeland, Norway