Clear Weather Leads to Binge-Climbing in Patagonia


Climbers on the southwest face of Aguja Desmochada. [Photo] Neil Kauffman

Sean Villanueva, with partner Cintia Percivati, freed Golden Eagle (V 5.12b, 800m) on the southwest face of Desmochada. Villanueva then teamed up with Nico Favresse to make an onsight, free ascent of Fitz Roy's east face. The climbers linked the East Pillar route with El Corazon and encountered difficulties of up to 7b.

Pete Fasoldt and Eli Simon put a new route up on Desmochada's southeast face. Circus Pets (5.10 A0, 650m) follows an obvious crack system for 13 pitches. The duo free-climbed all but two meters of the rock, where they encountered an ice-filled offwidth. Fasoldt pulled out a loose block on the approach pitch, taking a seven-meter lead fall and hitting his head. He took a few painkillers and continued the climb.

Chris Geisler bails off the Cerro Torre headwall. [Photo] Jason Kruk


During the same weather window, Slovenians Matjaz Dusic and Lovro Vrsnik completed Mate, Poro y Todo lo Demas (5.11b, 900m) up the Goretta Pillar on Fitz Roy. Bean Bowers and Rolando Garibotti climbed the line to a ledge on top of the pillar three years ago, but not to the summit of Fitz Roy.

News of the forecasted weather window reached Chris Geisler and Jason Kruk as they were hiking out of the Torre Valley. "I dropped my pack—Kruk shuttled it back to camp—and ran to [El Chalten] to change my flight," said Geisler. "I left town at 10:00 p.m. and got back to Niponino at 3:30 in the morning. We thought about leaving right away because the glacier and the snow going isothermal, but we decided to sneak in four hours of sleep." The next morning after his 30km trek, Geisler and Kruk set off for Cerro Torre to try a "fair means" ascent of the southeast ridge, which is home to Maestri's infamous Compressor Route.

"The reason I feel climbing the southeast ridge of Cerro Torre without using Maestri´s bolts is significant is because while the bolts remain in place, they set a precedent that excessive bolting and rappel bolting is okay in this mountain range," said Kruk. "[Cerro Torre] is one of the most beautiful and difficult mountains in the world and it has a via ferrata to its summit!"

Kruk lead and short-fixed the first section, following the Salvaterra-Mabboni and Wharton-Smith lines up to the headwall. They spent the next day climbing in close proximity to David Lama, who was aiding the Compressor Route as the film crew circled above in a helicopter. Geisler and Kruk continued up the headwall through the night, but were slowed by difficult route-finding.

Chris Geisler on the final pitch of his and partner Jason Kruk's attempt to climb Cerro Torre's southeast ridge "by fair means." On February 9, Geisler and Kruk bailed in a whiteout less than 60m below the summit. [Photo] Jason Kruk

"We followed the wrong feature out left and eventually dead-ended after Geisler led an eight-hour pitch of techno aid, taking one whipper when the flake he was hooking on ripped," Kruk wrote in his blog. That morning, February 11, a whiteout storm cut their climb short less than 60m from the summit.

"If there's one thing I've learned from my little bit of time down [in Patagonia], it's that the weather can be particularly heinous and you just have to be open to a whole slew of objectives... but we were so tantalizingly close," said Geisler.

Days later, Kruk returned to the peak with an entourage of climbers to make another attempt on the ridge. However, warm weather forced them off the route just above the Salvaterra-Mabboni variation.

More recently, Whit Magro, Nate Opp and Josh Wharton established a 1900m link-up of Desmochada, Aguja de la Silla and Fitz Roy. In a four-day push, the trio linked Desmochada's Brass Parrot Variant (7b+), a new route they call The Vertical Current (6b, 600m) on Aguja de la Silla and the Californian Route (5.11 55 degrees, 650m) on Fitz Roy. This linkup, dubbed The Wave Effect (7b+ 40 degrees, 1900m), was climbed as a "team free ascent," with the leader free-climbing and the seconds jumaring or following behind.

Patagonia climber Rolando Garibotti said the link-up is "likely one of the very best rock climbs in the entire massif."

Sources: Rolando Garibotti, Chris Geisler, Blake Herrington, Neil Kauffman, Jason Kruk, Kate Rutherford, Josh Wharton,,,,,,,

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