South America, Argentina, Southern Patagonia, Chalten Massif, Aguja Poincenot (3,002m), Southeast Face, Via Russo
Aguja Poincenot (3,002m), southeast face, Via Russo. In 2011 Sergey Dashkevitch (29), Arkadiy Seregin (52), and I (45) attempted a new route on the east face of Poincenot but retreated in bad weather. We returned in 2012 having as our goal the long, cold southeast face, and were joined by Eugeny Dmitrienko (37). I think it is impossible to climb this wall in a light-and-fast style, so we climbed capsule style, moving our portaledge twice.
On February 8 we established a snow cave beneath St. Exupéry and the following day took six-and-a-half hours to find a way across the glacier to the face. That day we climbed and fixed the first two pitches, both 6a M4. Next day, with heavy rain in the morning, we fixed three more pitches, the first two free, at 6a/6b, and the third A2/A3. On the 11th it rained sporadically all day, but we added four more pitches, with difficulties up to 6b A2/A3. On the 12th we placed a portaledge at the top of pitch nine and climbed one pitch above, at A3. There was heavy snow all next day, as we climbed just one 50m, A3/A4 pitch. On the following day we climbed from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., in heavy snowfall and strong wind, adding five more pitches (mainly aid to A3/A4, with a 6a chimney) and moving a portaledge to our high point, the top of pitch 18.
On the afternoon of the 16th we climbed a pitch of 6a A1 and joined the Italian Route (Sperone degli Italiani, 1,200m, 6b A3, Bortoli-Carnati-Colombo, 1986). We then climbed three pitches (6a-6b) of this route, while also moving our other portaledge from the top of pitch three to the top of pitch 19 and stripping our gear from the face.
The 17th was a day of perfect weather, and we continued up the Italian Route and the upper section of the Original Route (550m, 5+ M3, Cochrane-Whillans, 1962) arriving on the summit at midday. The next day was also perfect, and by 2 p.m. we had reached the glacier, having descended the Italian Route. We left no gear on our route, just slings on the way down.
We named our line Via Russo (1,200m [750m new] 6b A3/A4 M4). It is logical, safe, and solid, and the Italian Route makes a safe, logical descent.
I prefer to climb new big wall routes. Climbing for me is a leisure activity. It is about enjoyment, and I do not worry about style, speed, etc. One day on the face, in hurricane-like wind, I was jumaring and cleaning gear. Sometimes the gusts pushed me and the heavy haul bag 45° from the vertical. Loose ends of 60m rope flapped wildly. I caught myself thinking it’s moments like these that make life worth living.
After only a day’s rest in Chalten, we went to attempt the “new” Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre [the line followed by Kennedy and Kruk]. It was not a good idea, as we hadn’t time to wait for a good forecast. From the glacier beneath the Col of Patience, we climbed from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m., by which time we had reached a point beneath the headwall, where we retreated and regained the tent at 3 a.m.
Mikhail Devi, Russia, supplied by Anna Piunova, www.mountain.ru