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North Face of Cerro Torre Gets First Integral Ascent

Posted on: February 18, 2015


Marc-Andre Leclerc following Colin Haley's lead—the first of his lead block on the north face—before the team rejoins El Arca de los Vientos during the first ascent of Cerro Torre's first integral north face route. [Photo] Colin Haley

From February 2 to 3, less than two weeks after establishing La Travesia del Oso Buda—aka the Reverse Torre Traverse— Colin Haley and Marc-Andre Leclerc climbed the first complete ascent of Cerro Torre's north face. Haley and Leclerc, both arriving most recently from Squamish, British Columbia (Haley is originally from Washington state), have made major ascents in back-to-back weather windows in El Chalten. Their new route on Cerro Torre follows Rolando Garibotti, Alessandro Beltrami and Ermanno Salvaterra's 2005 line, El Arca de Los Vientos, up Cerro Torre's lower northeast face to the Egger-Torre col. Above the col, where El Arca traverses to the upper northwest face, they continued straight up the north face for six new pitches before rejoining El Arca, and the Ragni Route to reach the summit. According to Haley, the new terrain is characterized by "splitter cracks on good rock," and mixed climbing. At times, they aided off ice tools. Haley noted that these six new pitches "are mostly covered in rime ice about 90 percent of the year, and under those conditions would be extremely slow and difficult [to climb]," alluding to the possibility that this may be why El Arca traverses west at the col instead of continuing up the north face. In spite of comparably favorable conditions, Haley described their time on Cerro Torre as "climbing for two days straight in a nearly constant shower of grape- to golf ball-sized ice chunks." Leclerc climbed much of the upper pitches with knuckles bloodied by falling ice. Leclerc added, "It's not a hard climb technically, but due to various alpine factors its not quite like the yellow-tape 10+ jug haul in the gym."

Haley leading the second-to-last pitch of El Arca de los Vientos, high on Cerro Torre's north face. [Photo] Marc-Andre Leclerc

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Haley and Leclerc named their route Directa de la Mentira (the Lie Direct) as a reference to Italian Cesare Maestri's purported 1959 ascent of Cerro Torre via its northeast ridge.

In a post to his website pataclimb.com, Garibotti noted Haley and Leclerc's continued dominance of the Chalten Massif this season, and described the North American duo as "the two fittest and hungriest men here at the moment, 'the unstoppable two.'"

Leclerc on pitch three of six new pitches on the north face of Cerro Torre. [Photo] Colin Haley

While Haley is renowned for his groundbreaking first ascents in the Chalten massif—including the first ascent of the Torre Traverse in 2008, with Garibotti—Leclerc is better known for fast and bold solos on granite rock climbs around his home in Squamish, British Columbia and for free soloing hard ice. Yet during this trip to El Chalten, only his second visit to the region, Leclerc showed impressive versatility and the ability to pick up new skills in real time. Says Haley, "I can't think of any other 22-year-olds anywhere who have the same combination of skills and experience."

Although poor weather rendered last year's austral summer inaccessible to most climbers, this season has featured a few good weather windows, which have allowed for a variety of big objectives to get tackled such as the the first integral ascent of Tobogan by Toni Ponholzer and Peter Ortner to the summit of Torre Egger. Still, it hasn't been all sunshine and high-pressure systems: Garibotti was quick to point out that "in comparison to good seasons, this has been a bad one."

[Photo] Rolando Garibotti

Sources: Rolando Garibotti, Colin Haley, Marc-Andre Leclerc, alpinist.com, americanalpineclub.org, gripped.com, pataclimb.com

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