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Argentine Patagonia 2015-16 Summer Season Highlights

Posted on: March 2, 2016


Matt Burderkin leading new ground on The Siren, with Fitz Roy in the background. [Photo] Tom Ripley

A combination of great weather and strong climbers have made the 2015-16 summer season in Argentine Patagonia one of the most impressive to date. Alpinist already reported a 20-hour traverse of the Torre group, a solo ascent of Torre Egger, and a repeat of Psycho Vertical, also on Torre Egger, and a new route on the South Face of Fitz Roy.

Here are other notable ascents this season in Patagonia.

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Cerro Torre

On January 30 to 31, Matteo Della Bordella and Silvan Schupbach did the fourth ascent of the Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre (Filo Sureste; 7a [5.11d] A2 WI5 70 degrees, 800m, Kennedy-Kruk, 2012). They completed the route in two days, finishing up the Lama-Ortner variation. On the first day, the pair climbed to the Ice Towers and bivouacked. The next day, they summited Cerro Torre at 3:00 p.m., and then rappelled for eight hours.

Cerro Torre's Southeast Ridge. [Photo] Cameron M. Burns

During February 5 and 6, American climbers Andrew Rothner, Mikey Schaefer and Josh Wharton made the second free ascent of the Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre (8a [5.13b]). Rothner led the crux thirteenth pitch on his second attempt, and Wharton and Schaefer followed it free. Austrian climbers David Lama and Peter Ortner did the first free ascent in January 2012.

"It was a fun climb, and cool to revisit after experiencing some drama with the bolt removal," Wharton told Alpinist. "The coolest thing about this climb for me personally was sharing it with Andrew Rothner. It was his first alpine climb."

[Read more about the 2012 bolt removal on Cerro Torre's Compressor route in Kennedy, Kruk Release Statement and Lama Frees Compressor, Bolts Surrendered—Ed.]

Cerro Fitz Roy

The biggest peak in the area, Cerro Fitz Roy, saw a lot of action this season.

On January 20, Americans Pete Fasoldt and Jonathan Schaffer climbed a new route on Fitz Roy's North Face. Pretty Bird (7a+ [5.12a] A0, 1000m) climbs the face left of the Supercanaleta (5+ [5.10a] 80 degrees, 1600m, Comesana-Fonrouge, 1965), sharing several pitches with Filo Noroeste (6a+ [5.10c] 30 degrees, 1550m, Afanassieff-Afanassieff-Abert-Fabre, 1979), to reach the Gran Hotel, a ledge halfway up. From the Hotel, the climbers jammed a wide crack system up the headwall above. The 1800-meter route also shared three pitches with Clinica de Aventura (6c [5.11b], 30 degrees, 750m; Ackermann-Fiorenza-Villavicencio, 2010).

The east sides of Aguja Poincenot (left) and Fitz Roy with the East Pillar (left) and El Corazon marked. [Photo] Cameron M. Burns

The first ascent of Pretty Bird required two bivouacs at the Gran Hotel on both the ascent and descent. The route was named for a hummingbird that fluttered by while Fasoldt belayed. Fasoldt said, "The bird stayed for only a few seconds and flew off the way hummingbirds do. Clearly it was lost."

"The offwidth pitches were the most technically demanding aspects of the climb," Fasoldt said. "Johnny [Schaffer] led a steep squeeze section high up with no gear and that for him was likely the most challenging aspect. For me, I got nailed by a cantaloupe-sized rock on my left thigh low down on the route and had to continue climbing with a compromised leg. [Schaffer] led the whole 12-pitch offwidth block, with difficulties up to 7a [5.11d] R/X. He's a true boss in the wide cracks."

On January 21, American climbers Max Barlerin, Quinn Brett and Michael Lukens made the first ascent of the Colorado Route, a 7a [5.11c/d], 500-meter climb right of the Washington Route on the South Face of Fitz Roy. Americans Mark Westman and Ben Erdmann made the second ascent of the Colorado Route, confirming the route's quality.

While they were in the area, Westman and Erdmann also made the second ascent of Circus Pets (6b [5.10d], A0, 500m, Fasoldt-Simon, 2011) on Aguja Desmochada.

On January 30 and 31, Slovaks Michal Sabovcik and Jan Smolen climbed a new route on Fitz Roy's South Face, Asado (7a+ [5.12a] C2 M8, 700m). It ascends new terrain left of The Canadian Route for 13 pitches before joining the latter and finishing up the Boris Simoncic Route (6a C2, 45 degrees, 500m 45). The pair dry-tooled up the first four iced pitches before aiding and free climbing the rest of the route. They bivouacked on a ledge atop Pitch 8 and then again on Fitz Roy's summit.

On February 6, Colin Haley and Alex Honnold speed climbed an impressive link-ups that includes several spires on the southwestern side of the mountain. In a 17-hour effort, the pair climbed a variation of the Wave Effect Direct (6c+ 5.11b] 40 degrees, 1900m): Golden Eagle and Sound and the Fury on Aguja Desmochada, El Bastardo on Aguja de la Silla and the famed Californiana ("Fun Hogs") route up Fitz Roy. The climb was the first one-day ascent of the Wave Effect and the first free ascent of El Bastardo. "I'll add that El Bastardo was by far the most physical and tiring climbing that I've done in the mountains," Honnold told Alpinist. "Offwidth is tough!"

Also on February 6, Jorge Ackermann and Tony McLane made the first one-day and fourth overall ascent of El Corazon (6c [5.11b] A4, 45 degrees, 1250m, Ochsner-Pitelka, 1992) on the East Face of Fitz Roy. The pair started at 5 a.m. and reached the summit 20-and-a-half hours later. The crux of the route, hooking around a prominent heart-shaped rock scar, was avoided with a pendulum. As referenced above, David Bacci and Matteo Della Bordella also made a three-day, second ascent of the East Pillar of Fitz Roy (Pilar Este; 6a [5.10b] A3 65 degrees, 1200m, Ferrari-Meles, 1976).

Aguja Desmochada east face with Circus Pets marked. [Photo] Cameron M. Burns

Americans Scott Coldiron, Jess Roskelley and Ben Erdmann made a link-up of Aguja de la Silla and the California Route (Californiana; 6a+ [5.10c], 400m, 40 degrees, Chouinard-Dorworth-Tejada Flores-Tompkins-Jones, 1968) on Fitz Roy's southwest face. They approached the climb from the west side, rather than from the east. The climb required negotiating a massive serac in the Poincenot Gully on the west side of Aguja Poincenot.

Jay Smith and Robert Finlay wander past the North Pillar of Cerro Fitz Roy with El Corazon marked. [Photo] Cameron M. Burns

Other Patagonian Areas

Also in January, a British team climbed a new route, The Siren (5+ [5.10b], 500m), on the east face of Aguja Bifida Sur, the lower south peak of a twin-summited tower in the Torre group. Matt Burdekin and Tom Ripley's ascent is thought to be the third of this seldom-climbed peak. On January 18 they climbed 15 new pitches and then joined the route Cogan (6a [5.10b] 40 degrees, 700m, Bruckner-Shoerghofer, 1993). After a bivy, they climbed another nine pitches up Cogan and finished up the South Ridge. The last four pitches on Cogan represented the climbing crux with wet moves on good rock.

"Matt Burdekin in our cozy bivy, situated where The Siren joins the existing route Cogan," Ripley said. [Photo] Tom Ripley

On January 20, Yokoyama and Nagato did another new route, this time on Aguja el Trident, a small peak in the Cerro Pollone cluster north of Cerro Torre. The free route Knob-mania (7c, 400m) follows an elegant line up the west side of the spire.

In late January two Bulgarian climbers, Martin Marovski and Victor Varoshkin, established a new route on El Mocho (1953m) they named The Approach Team Line (6c [5.11b] A2+, 450m). The climb took five days scattered over a month. Before completing the route, they fixed 280 meters of rope. The climb's name refers to their first month in Patagonia, which they spent hiking and exploring in bad weather. The mixed aid and free route offered dirty climbing up flared cracks at the start, then a superb crack system on the upper wall. They believe the route will go free.

The upper part of Fitz Roy from the Italian Col with the Colorado Route (left) and Asado (right) marked. [Photo] Cameron M. Burns

Brette Harrington's Free-Solo Ascent of Aguja de L'S

American climber Brette Harrington free soloed Austriaca (6a [5.10b] 50 degrees, 350m, Barnthaler-Lidl, 1987) on the northeast face of Aguja de L'S on January 30. "My original plan was to try a link-up that I had envisioned last year of De L'S, Saint-Exupery, and Rafael-Juarez, which is why I climbed De L'S at 3 a.m.," Harrington told Alpinist. "This was my first time on Aguja De L'S. I chose Austriaca, [because it's] the most logical line for a linkup." After completing her solo climb, Harrington discovered other teams on the routes she wanted to climb next and decided against continuing on with her goal.

[Special thanks to Rolando Garibotti for carefully documenting Patagonia's new route activity on his website-Ed.]

Sources: Quinn Brett, Scott Colidron, Pete Fasoldt, Colin Haley, Alex Honnold, Tony McLane, Tom Ripley, Josh Wharton, climbingguidebg.com, pataclimb.com, planetmoutain.com, ukclimbing.com, wspinanie.pl. With additional reporting by Holly Blanchard, Stewart M. Green and Chris Van Leuven

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