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East Face of Piergiorgio Climbed in Alpine Style
Posted on: December 22, 2010
Will Sim topping out on the possible summit of Piergiorgio. The pair climbed the East Face with only the knowledge that the first ascensionists had summited via a snow mushroom, after using aid and fixed ropes. Sim and Griffith managed the climb in alpine style in a day with difficulties up to A1 and Scottish Grade 7. Notice Fitz Roy and Supercaneleta in the background. [Photo] Jonathan Griffith
Will Sim and Jon Griffith recently returned to the UK after an excellent Patagonian adventure. After climbing the classic Cerro Standhardt route Exocet, the pair needed a second objective for the next weather window. They found their "Plan B" in an alpine ascent of the rarely climbed East Face of Piergiorgio, a route they climbed with little planning, little knowledge of the route, and a lot of excitement.
On their first trip to Patagonia the pair were "still on a high" from their last climb the pair wanted another climb to wrap up their trip with. Looking out at the back of the Torre valley Sim suggested going for a distant flat topped peak, Piergiorgio. Griffith told Alpinist, "it looked so far away and slightly ominous, as the mountains can do in a certain light and haze. With such a short weather window it seemed like the thing to try and do."
Together the pair came up with the information that there was a route on the East Face, that it had been climbed in the 1960s over multiple days using fixed ropes, contained some amount of aid, and that the summit was a snowmushroom. Unsure whether they were headed into rock, mixed, ice, or snow terrain the two climbers prepared for an unknown and relatively obscure objective. On December 11th, after a six and half hour wade through deep snow the sweaty the climbers got a look at the rock that awaited them. A pitch of comfortable mixed led into A1 aid, and then Scottish Grade 7 before a leg-numbing traverse and pitches of thin ice paved the way to the summit. With the knowledge that the first ascensionists climbed a snowmushroom the duo climbed a snow cone they found before beginning the rappel. Just in time as the weather began to break on the descent with winds whipping the fresh snow into virtual whiteout. Yet despite the conditions the rappels went well despite Griffith tearing his nose on a V-thread tool.
Luckily upon crossing the bergschrund they could still make out a faint track from their early passage and managed to return to camp that evening. Sim described their day as "a great line, great climbing and great summit." A post-climb questioning of Patagonia expert Rolando Garibotti turned up that their climb was most likely the second full ascent of the East Face, and the first in alpine style. For more information and pictures visit Sim's and Griffith's blogs at williamsim.blogspot.com and alpineexposures.com.
Will Sim on the first pitch of technical rock. Griffith described the climbing on this pitch as "classic Chamonix style mixed climbing". [Photo] Jonathan Griffith
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