Chalten Massif, Summary
South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia
The biggest news of the 2010–11 season, not in the individual reports below, was the “fair-means” attempt to climb the Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre (a.k.a. Compressor Route) by Canadians Chris Geisler and Jason Kruk. They had hoped to climb the Southeast Ridge without using any of Maestri’s bolts for progression. They reached the headwall following the Mabboni-Salva- terra and Wharton-Smith variations to the Compressor Route, and then climbed four pitches weaving around Maestri’s bolts to 40m below the summit snowfield, from where they retreated in bad weather. Hats off for such a great effort!
Elsewhere in the Torre Range, early in the season American Colin Haley made the first solo ascent of Aguja Standhardt, which he climbed via Exocet.
During the same good weather window, Swiss Michi Lerjen and Simon Anthamatten made an impressive one-day outing with ascents of Punta Herron and Torre Egger. They climbed across the snow ramps of Standhardt to reach the Col dei Sogni, summited Herron after midday and Egger around 4 p.m., before descending to the Egger-Torre col and down the east face of Torre. Also on Egger, during the austral winter a few months earlier, Swiss Dani Arnold, Thomas Senf, and Stefan Siegrist made the peak’s first winter ascent. They followed the Martin-O’Neill link-up (lower part of the Italian route to the upper part of Titanic), taking three days round trip.
Toward the end of December, Mikey Schaefer, Jens Holsten, and Colin Haley climbed 350m of new terrain on the right side of the east face of Mermoz to reach the Argentine Route, which they followed to the summit. They called their line Jardines Japoneses (600m, AI4 M5 6b A1).
On the west face of Aguja Guillaumet, Czech Michal Pitelka and German Carsten Von Birckhahn climbed their third new route on the face, an obvious crack system between Padrijo and Rayo de Luz. Just to the left, between Padrijo and Disfrute la Vida, Americans Blake Herrington and Scott Bennett climbed a new route that they called Las Venturas. On the nearby Aguja Mermoz, Herrington and Bennett did the first free ascent of Cosas Patagonicas (5.11).
On Cerro Piergiorgio Brits Jonathan Griffith and Will Sim made the second ascent of the first ascent route (Jorge and Pedro Skvarca, 1963, 350m, 5[UIAA rock] A1 70°).
On Desmochada, Belgian Sean Villanueva made the first free ascent of Golden Eagle (5.11+).
On Cerro Fitz Roy, Slovenes Matjaz Dusic and Lovro Vrsnik made the first integral ascent (to the summit; the route originally ended atop the Goretta (north) Pillar) of Mate, Porro y Todo lo Demas, climbing the route to the summit in two days. Just to the right, between Mate-Porro and the Polish Route, Argentines Luciano Fiorenza and Jimmy Heredia, with Brazilian Sergio Tartari, climbed a new route on the Goretta Pillar over three days. The called their line Al Abordaje (900m, 6c A2+).
Fitz Roy was the site of a dramatic accident that resulted in the death of Brazilian climber Bernardo Collares. Collares and Kika Bradford were descending from an attempt on the Afanassieff Route when the rap anchor pulled. Collares suffered multiple injuries and was unable to move. Bradford descended to get help but because of Collares’s location, 1,200m above the glacier, and the absence of helicopter rescue, it was impossible to reach him. The accident should serve as a reminder to all climbers that, despite the area’s growing popularity and the apparent ease with which some climbers ascend these big peaks today, it is still a serious and remote area. Carry strong painkillers, rely on only yourself, and climb with no illusions of rescue.
[Editor’s note: As most of the obvious lines in the Chalten massif have been climbed, refinement ascents and variations are, naturally, increasing. Many of these don’t meet the AAJ’s criteria for inclusion, but Garibotti provides more comprehensive information than we present here, as well as an authoritative source on Patagonia climbing and its ongoing history at pataclimb.com.]