Posted on: June 1, 2003

Patagonia: it lived up to its mean and beautiful nature this year, crushing the dreams of some and creating them for others. Word has it that the month of November had calm periods of weather—a blessing for locals, but no climbers were in the area to put it to use. From December 15 to February 17 there were only five climbable days, two of which yielded extremely snowy conditions on the walls.

December 30 dawned clear, but was nasty by afternoon. Those that were willing to wait out the night scored: New YearÂ’s Eve came as calm as the day before. That night, Dave Nettle and I straddled the mushroom on Cerro Torre via the Compressor Route. On January 6, we put up the Supertrek (V 5.11-) variation to the 800-meter Claro de Luna on Saint Exupery’s west face. Once we had finished, the weather promptly deteriorated, clear proof that Nettle really is the luckiest man in the climbing community.

On February 15, the weather cleared again, revealing snow-plastered walls. On Aguja Rafael, Esteban Arellano, Juan Pirana and I freed the aid pitches on Arti-Belleza, retreating one 5.8 pitch from the summit in deteriorating weather.


— Bean Bowers, Bozeman, Montana, USA

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