American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The Wave Effect (Desmochada, De la Silla, Fitz Roy Enchainment)

South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Whit Margo, Bozeman, Montana
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2011

One tower at a time, Nate Opp, Josh Wharton, and I wanted to do it right. The Wave Effect started with Aguja Desmochada. We linked parts of two different routes: the original Bridwell line, El Condor, and the Huber route, Golden Eagle. The key was freeing the A2 pitch on El Condor, which went at 5.12+, using the rivet and bolt Bridwell placed on the original ascent. We called our free line The Brass Parrot.

Atop Desmochada, as with every summit, the bivy was the main concern. With some work wed carve little spots for the three of us to cram into our two-man tent with one sleeping bag. We compromised comfort for the ability to travel extremely light. Also, between every tower was extremely exposed ice and snow. We had crampons, and the leader took our single ice tool, while the two followers carried sharp rocks—not ideal, but light.

Next was the rarely climbed Aguja de la Silla. Not totally sure where we were going, we picked the path of least resistance and established an independent new line, Vertical Current, that climbed to the notch between Silla and Fitz Roy. From the notch we followed the original East Ridge route to the summit. Major clouds had built up, making for poor visibility that would stay with us for the remainder of our enchainment. Ours was the fourth ascent of the tower.

After the summit of de la Silla we crossed the notch to the shoulder of Fitz Roy and bivied below the California Route. Spirits were high as we finished the last of our dinners and left just enough gas to make water in the morning.

We woke in a total white out, but thankfully dead still—in Patagonia, a rare and fair trade for visibility. Following our noses and old piton anchors, we made a five-hour ascent of the California Route. We were climbing together on one rope, moving fast, with no idea where we were, when suddenly Josh yelled, “Cumbre!” We had just completed The Wave Effect (1,900m, 5.12+ (leader freeing every pitch), February 20–22, 2011).

On the final morning, we had been without real food for 24 hours; nobody complained. It was one of the most beautiful mornings I have ever seen. An inversion left a blanket of clouds below us and only giant towers poking up all around. Before starting up Fitz Roy we just stood there, warming in the sun like lizards.

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