Torre Egger (2,850m), South Face, Venas Azules
South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif
Norwegians Bjorn-Eivind Aartun and Ole Lied climbed a spectacular ice route on the left side of the steep south face of Torre Egger, overlooking the Col of Conquest. They first climbed 600m (6a Al) of El Area de los Vientos to the col, where they bivouacked. Next day, after an initial pitch of M5, they continued for six pitches to the summit, up very steep, ephemeral rime and blue ice plastered to the granite. They rappelled the face to their bivouac. Venas Azules gains a total height of 950m, of which 350m were new, at AI6 (95°) M5 Al. This is the first time the face above the col has been climbed since the original ascent in 1976.
The ascent was one of six nominated for a 2012 Piolet d’Or, but just days before this was officially announced, the popular, well-respected Aartun was killed attempting a new ice route in his home country. Venas Azules was later awarded a special mention by the Piolets d’Or jury, which felt it achieved a new level of technical ice climbing in an alpine environment, only possible due to the team’s opportunism. Aartun’s account appears earlier in this Journal