Fitz Roy, North Face

Posted on: June 1, 2007


Grega Lacen on Los Ultimos Dias del Paraiso (5.11b A2), north face of Fitz Roy. Lacen and Tomaz Jakofcic climbed 600 meters of new terrain before working their way onto the French Northwest (aka Afanasieff) Ridge (ED-: 5.9 A2, 1600m, Afanasieff-Afanasieff-Abert-Fabre, 1979) in deteriorating weather. They topped out the next day, then descended in some of the worst wind of the season, and reached their bivy seventy-two hours after leaving. [Photo] Tomaz Jakofcic

Fitz Roy, North Face, New Variation. In the end Grega Lacen and I would need thirty-eight hours of nonstop climbing to the summit and seventy-two without sleeping for the whole story. Our line started on the north face of Fitz Roy on the left side of an obvious snow ledge below Tehuelche (ED+: 5.11 A1, 1200m, Barbolini-Boni-Petronio-Pozzi-Rontini-Sterni, 1986), and for the first seven pitches, we struggled up loose, sandy flakes and icy cracks (up to 5.11b), with some aid (up to A2). We were somewhere around an old French attempt; rap stations appeared close by in a chimney. The feature was full of ice, so we went around it on slabs for some five or six pitches before rejoining our original objective, the big corner left of the Afanasieff Ridge (ED-: 5.9 A2, 1600m, Afanasieff-Afanasieff-Abert-Fabre, 1979). In the upper part of the face, though, icy conditions and bad weather most of the day slowed us a bit.

Once we saw that "our" corner looked super loose, we headed for the Afanasieff and joined the old line on the big tower below the crux. This part had better rock but again more ice and harder climbing than we had expected (5.10b A2, ten pitches). We continued through the night and reached the ridge in a windy dawn. Without a topo for the Afanasieff, we had a few problems with orientation, especially because half the day, we were in the clouds. When we went higher, it became clear that the shortest and safest way down was over the summit, so we pushed on and arrived at the top at 10 p.m., as a storm raged about us.

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Up to now everything had been OK; we had enjoyed the climb despite the weather. On the summit, however, the visibility was poor, the slope was hard, and one hundred meters below the top, I broke one of my superlight crampons. Grega had to make bigger footsteps for my left foot, while I grabbed those steps with my left hand like a cat. Where the Franco-Argentine rappels should have begun, the conditions became crazy: snow, strong wind and bigger and bigger spindrifts. We simply couldn't see anything. Although we rapped down a full ropelength a few times and jumared back up, we couldn't find the rappels, so we tried to dig a small ledge to wait for the dawn. Avalanches covered our Sisyphean work in seconds. For the rest of the night we stood like soldiers. Once the sun rose, we found the raps, and everything began to run smoothly again. Over Passo Guillamet we came down to Piedra and further to El Chalten.

We named our route Los Ultimos Dias del Paraiso (5.11b A2, 600m) and dedicated it to our friend Ozbej Povsod who died last year.

—Tomaz Jakofcic, Ljubljana, Slovenia

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