FITZ ROY MASSIF

Posted on: July 1, 2006


After a month skiing on the Continental Icecap with Ben Ditto and the off-piste guru, Andrew McLean, I started up Fitz Roy's Casarotto (aka North) Pillar (ED: 5.10 A1 60 degrees, 1200m, Casarotto, 1979) with Helen Motter on Christmas Eve. It was Helen's first Patagonian attempt; we made it to within four pitches of the top before snow and wind chased us down at 3 p.m.

Bean Bowers and Helen Motter on the first pitch of Fitz Roy's Franco-Argentine Route (ED-: 5.11 55 degrees, 650m, Bendinger-Brenner-Couch-Friedrich, 1984). Bowers and Motter climbed the route in two blocks in a round-trip time of twenty hours..... It was Bower's second Fitz Roy summit in seventy-two hours: he had climbed Fitz Roy's Casarotto Pillar all free camp-to-camp in just over twenty-four hours a day earlier with Josh Wharton. Bowers also climbed Poincenot (3002m) on January 4 and the Red Pillar (V+ 5.12b, ca. 450m, Albert-Arnold. 1999) on Aguja Mermoz in a twelve-hour camp-to-camp free blast with Sean Leary on January 5. [Photo] Andrew Wexler

On January 4 I summited Poincenot (3002m) with Kevin Quigley; the next day Sean Leary and I blasted the Red Pillar (V+ 5.12b, ca. 450m, Albert-Arnold, 1999) on Aguja Mermoz, both of us climbing every pitch with no falls, in nine hours to the summit, twelve back to our camp. Josh Wharton, Sean Leary and I then went for an alpine-style free attempt on Fitz Roy's Royal Flush (VI 5.12c A2, 900m, Albert-Arnold-Gerschel-Richter, 1995). Our charade of free climbing was over by Pitch 10, but we kept going, trying for the first alpine-style ascent instead—only to get turned back by icy conditions on Pitch 23 later in the evening. Josh and I returned to the route as a team of two a week later, covering the lower third by night, but we got stormed off Pitch 17.

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After the next snow barrage, we redirected our sights to the North Pillar. Freeing all the pitches on lead and short fixing for the second when possible, we reached the top by 7 p.m., seventeen hours after leaving camp. Camp-to-camp took just over twenty-four hours. Thirty-six hours later, after many naps and lots of soup, Helen Motter and I headed up the Franco-Argentine (ED-: 5.11 55 degrees, 650m, Bendinger-Brenner-Couch-Friedrich, 1984). We split the climb into two blocks and arrived on the summit by 5 p.m., making it back in camp for a round-trip time of twenty hours. It was my second Fitz Roy summit in seventy-two hours. Of all the sweet ski lines, the endless pitches of some of Patagonia's most quality stone, the sunrises and the sunsets, seeing Hels on the summit of El Chalten (3405m) was the highlight of my season.

Bean Bowers, Bozeman, Montana



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