Friday, February 27, 2009

Return from Patagonia

I think everyone has things they would like to accomplish in their lifetime, be it writing a book, learning a language, or climbing a particular route. One of my "lifetime goals" is to climb every peak in the Torre group. The Torres are some of the most spectacular peaks I've ever seen, and their steep technical nature combined with Patagonia's notorious weather makes their summits some of the more elusive in the world. In fact, perhaps only a half dozen climbers in the world have stood atop Cerro Standhart, Punta Heron, Torre Egger, and Cerro Torre. In 2005 I nearly climbed Torre Egger, but missed the true summit when my friend Bean Bowers took a 100' fall from the summit snow mushroom. In 2007 I climbed Cerro Torre, but utilized the infamous Maestri bolts on the mountain's final headwall, which for me discredited the ascent.

This year, despite continuously bad weather that kept us from trying our primary objective on the East Face of Cerro Torre, I finally came one step closer to realizing my dream by climbing Cerro Standhart. During a brief window of marginal weather Tommy Caldwell and I repeated "Festerville," which turned out to be a fun route with some quality climbing. We also managed to turn a relatively benign day out into a proper adventure by enduring a 12 hour standing bivy in hopes of continuing onto Punta Heron and Torre Egger the following morning. Unfortunately the weather closed in overnight and we were forced to retreat, but not before getting damn cold and having a few laughs at our own expense.

All in all the trip was great fun. Tommy and I made the most of the trip by bouldering loads, (Look for a short video of us doing a cool boulder problem in El Chalten at soon.), and hiking into the mountains whenever we thought there was a slight chance of decent weather. We're both enthusiastic about more adventures together in the future, and left a cache below the Torre group in anticipation of another trip next season. Hope you enjoy the photos and short video below.

Tommy climbs out of the Bifida/Standhart col during our ascent of "Festerville."
The Torre Group. From left to right; Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, Punta Heron, and Cerro Standhart. "Festerville" climbs the right skyline of Standhart.

Tommy just below the final snow mushroom on Cerro Standhart.

The bivy, before we started to freeze.