End October, a high pressure system  parked his ass on the Alps, permanently. Prime time for north face climbing. When the weather is good  all appear to be almost easy, call a partner spell the name of a world class route,go at it climb it...After a warmup run on Jorasses NF  most recent addiction, Monomania (Desecures-Sourzac), renowned and  intimidating routes as No Siesta and Desmaison Goussealt finally went in the bag, in the best possible way, free, and pretty fast as well. 
Following the step of motivational figures as Jasper,Sourzac,Sorenson,Lukic was emotional, they showed the way, most of them already longtime ago . What else we can do now with Ergos and Dart apart climbing free on the North Face? The ultimate goal was to leave for Patagonia with a belly full of Alpine climbs because, well,  going to Chalten could also mean no climbing at all and a belly full of beer and alfajores.
Now time is come! The bags are ready and Patagonia would be the right place to get some serious test. I didn't wanted to commit the mistake of going there over confidently ,the recent success were due to a lot of good weather and awesome partners. In Patagonia i'm going  to be a rookie, welcomed by the unavoidable nasty  weather and with a new partner Michi Lerjen  Mountain Guide from Zermatt Suisse.
Michi already got a lot of experience and success in Patagonia and this will be the single good point that made the whole idea of going to such a complicated place with a new climbing partner seeming reasonable. Well, the fact that on the first and only climb we shared together we managed to climb the Rochefort Jorasses traverse in a mere 6h and a few minutes was positive too.
As soon as we landed in Buenos Aires we started what will become a customary duty,checking the Weather forecast, and making plans.
I will never forget my first view over Torre Group and the Fitz Roy range. I can imagine now how must have  felt Magnone seeing Fitz Roy for the very first time or Maestri seeing Cerro Torre and desperately wish to stand atop of his summit. The word summit seems so meaningful when looking at these mountains.

Maybe because the rare weather window will generally close before having a chance to reach it. Maybe because some summit are even capped with a huge Mushroom and when one spend a summer watching how miserably our Alps are melting away,year after year, and actually still freezing his ass most of the time in any season, well,  then is possible have an idea of how bad and heavy things can get up there, how much bad weather is necessary to form a mushroom?Mushroom or not every single summit is difficult enough to necessitate a little bit of good weather. It's all about the Cumbre,in the Alps reaching the top of a mountain is a useless waste of time between climbing and starting the descent. In Patagonia is the ultimate gift of the mighty gods.A totally memorable rare happening between a dream route and the odd storm to get on the way down.

I was curious to see how much i would want to push my body into punishment and how the commitment we accept in Alps, with the inner conscience that a rescue if things get nasty is generally possible(not due), would translate into a place that might be one of the few place in the planet where organizing a rescue is kind of an ordeal and many times unsuccesful. I was in a unconfortable situation.Maybe most of everything i was curious to see how i would accept to spend many days or weeks of inactivity. Being at the base of my favourite mountain, the one that simply made i became an alpinist ,back when i was a  kid, and well aware of the fact that i might not even touch it, let alone climb it, would have been hard. The mountain we came to climb was notorious Cerro Torre. 
I still remember when my dad once allowed me to stay with him watching a movie called Il Grido di Pietra,
a movie from Werner Herzog. Basically is a crappy movie full of lyrism and that gives a pretty wrong image of climbing. The movie trailer suggest it was based on a R.Messner idea. It was about a race to reach the top between a rock climber and an ice climber scenary images were blow minding. Images of Torre took from a helicopter were unreal, way more rewarding than the odd naked girl, who ultimately prefered to lay down with the muscled Rock Climber (liar, found his death on the mountain,overconfident) rather than the Alpine Climber (tough guy, lost his girl but got the Cumbre,i like that). Rock climbing action was from Stefan Glowacz the ice climbing from Hans Kammerlander,but at the time i had no idea who they where.
This movie changed my life and in no time i was obsessed with climbing and particularly this summit. But the road was long. Another think this movie left to me is the bad image of a overconfident asshole rock climber, of course it got the chicks easily but he was dead by the end of the movie. It implicate i would become an ice climber, fuck the hype .What else...oh yes  the controversial of the FA! it must have have been 91, the Iraq War, the big mess in Russia, Magic announced it got caught with HIV, Maradona was the best but a.c Milan was winning everything. 
Twenty years later,nothing changed, apart for Milan...too bad.
The controversial of the FA was the background of the movie. My father explained me the story. Maestri and Egger did they made the summit? No one knows. As a kid it became to me the most thrilling mistery ever, much more fascinating that all the shit we have nowaday...Armstrong more doped than the others?who care.  Maestri story was sick.
I never missed a single step of the whole story over Cerro Torre, the article from Donini as well than the  complete analysis made by Rolando Garibotti supported what i always doubted. The first ascent was not made in 1959. For sure Cesare Maestri name was attached for ever to this peak. Many people talks about a murderer mountain, like if the mountain was alive, have a soul and was bitch enough to murder the little men try to climb on her. I already experienced being on a mountain and felt like the wall was alive on the Eigerwand. Cerro Torre is similarly alive, i don't pay credit to the murdering things a mountain is not a murderer, but for what it gives and take to the mens that spend some time at their side it looks well alive. Is appealing to see how much fuss this mountain generated over the years, people that barely know what climbing means, had to share thoughts about what happened there bringing also a lot of animosity over the people that made his history, Maestri but also Salvaterra and Garibotti and recently Lama,Kennedy and Kruk. It strucks me to know Maestri wanted the whole mountain falling apart,wow!
I was eager to meet Rolo, who is certainly one of the most accomplished alpinist in the range, and to visit him was one of the first things we did once arrived at El Chalten. It was one of the most inspirational personality i had the chance  to meet not just for his alpinistic prowess but also for his active role in helping people getting to the mountains with all the necessary informations, and for his role in helping in rescues or his role in maintenance and protection of the Range.
Basically what we wanted to do was to give a try at Rolo's and Colin's Torre Traverse, the sort of undertaking impossible to tackle without a huge amount of good karma, skills ,knowledge of the 4 routes on the way up and the 4 way down in rappels, not to count the specially studied bivy gear and choice of equipment for a very long route with considerable difficulties up ice, rock some aid, all of that mostly under sizeable mushroom,in fact pure alpine porn.

I strongly doubted that i would have all of the necessary requirement to succeed as for me was the very first time up there and yet we haven't touch a single mountain. When finally a window materialized it was not a big window also it looked like the weather was pretty cold. We decided to try Cerro Torre West Face 
the route of the first complete ascent to the top performed by a solid group of Ragni di Lecco led by legendary Casimiro Ferrari back in 1974.Ferrari route  Is one of the best ice routes in the world,peole said.
Once in the tent at the camp of Niponino we settled our alarms at 2am hoping to do all the long approach and part of the climb over a day,but the weather didn't cooperate actually it was pretty snowy and windy for the night and part of the following morning. When we started after midday it was more to give a look at the conditions around than else.We didn't even took the patience of taking down the tent cause we tought we would be back in the evening, needless to say we never spent a single night into the tent ,the rest of the tent were retrieved by friends . Conditions were  suspect because of snow cumulations and potential avalanche danger,nevertheless we worked our way up to the Standhardt Col a curious place were under a huge jammed bloc is possible to see and access to the splendid Hielo Continental one of the biggest glaciers of the planet.
Jammed bloc

We rappelled to the West of Standhart Col toward the big Glacier and stepped to the unknown with our tiny backpacks.
The weather seemed finally to improve but no 3G and weather reports here on the Hielo Continental.Only me and Michi. No place for mistakes now. The amount of fresh snow made for slow progress,the weather cleared and we made it to the bergshrund,were we decided to set our bivy on a large terrace.

The view was the most awe-inspiring i have ever seen.

The light of the full moon was so intense i barely closed an eye .We started at 2 a.m
and worked our way up the first 700mt that have only moderate climbing interspersed with some more avalanche terrain.
After the Patiencia Col the climbing quickly became unbelievable. 
The Elmo was to be my first ever mushroom pitch, after a few minutes spent trying to climb it from outside, i had to be patient and work my way up digging a trench upwards.Patience is not my best quality so instead than keeping digging a pipe i prefered to use a sort of hybrid technique digging until i had enough of working then climbing until a fall seemed unavoidable then digging again.Unfortunately daylight brought a bad news i was going straight into more overhanging terrain instead than trending left toward a natural half pipe.Unable to dig with my left hand i finally tensioned on a snow picket and made a scary traverse hoping not to kill my self on my first Patagonic pitch.
Michi ERGO and Bruno's Wing on the Elmo
This first mushroom was a tough one and i couldn't help by wonder how would be the upper one wich is renowed to be more difficult. Michi traversed to the base of an awesome chimney system it was like climbing in a freezer.
Then some of the best pitches of Alpine Climbing in my life up to the Headwall Pitch

The Headwall pitch is very steep but much safer than a mushroom. Hopefully it will not melt because there are not other options and someone will have to drill the rock and put a bolt ladder (i know i'm bugging, there is no way someone would dare do somethin like that to this beautiful mountain...)
I'm checking around on the skies i couldn't believe we were approaching the top. But the last mushroom worried me, we had a few hours of good weather remaining before the strong wind start, this last mushroom is renowned to be kind of a  time consuming one...it actually turned down a few parties.
It looked nasty but i later ackowledged that it was better than usual since i could even place a couple of icescrew on it. I had a strange feeling once i was on the top,of joy, but already the need for more. That's how Torre took my soul using my weakness: i'm easily addicted.


The way down was complicated immediately by the loss of a rope, an event that could have had tragic consequence when after a few rappels we broke a v-thread hook, fortunately we had a spare one.
Michi led us down through furious winds doing countless rappel with our 50mt rope. Since we rappelled from almost any sort of anchors many of them of dubious quality we had finally an answer to the question "how far would we push in terms of commitment",when it comes to escape from an enraged Torre we had no choice than taking the commitment. I somewhat managed to hurt my eye, because of snow blindness while climbing the mushroom without sunglasses (it was could enough to make all the vapour out from my body freezing). I had no headlamp or food and water, because Michi  attached my pack a bit too fast, when i hauled the pack came up swiftly, it was open and upside down and empty...by night , we made our return to the sleeping bags and stove, we shared the last small bit of solid food. It was a pretty bad night for me i started feeling like i had some sand in my eye. I tried to remove the piece of sand all night, until i finally discovered that the sand in my eye was beacause i took off the sunglasses. In pain we took the long way back home, 42 km and 14h of pure pleasure,without food, music, and with  a constant pain in my eye, the scenery down the Hielo Continental was so rad even with only one eye open.

Hielo Continental

No pain No gain
Back to Chalten,after the necessary eat and rest i pushed the only door i hoped not to get trough,the one of the medical center, i was greeted by the Doctor Carolina, a active climber that must have nursed many climbers, and stole the heart of a few ones. My eye was healing quickly, but i had discovered a little frostnip to my big toe due to dehidratation and the use of boots a little too small, i lost a little bit of  skin but most dramatic we lost a day of good weather and i was recommended not to expose my foot to cold temperatures. Fortunately the weather stayed bad for a while.
Another window materialized again ,at  first seemed to be a long one then reduce to only two good days separated by a bad one.
We decided to give a try at Torre Traverse. We walked directly from Chalten to the base of Standhart a pretty long  8h approach. The amount of fresh snow made the last couple  of hours pretty miserable.


The weather was not good enough to give us much hope,but it was not bad either so up we went.To reach Aguja Standhart we choose to climb Exocet. 3AM my crampons scratch on a blank slab traverse into obscurity to the left. Michi follow with the heavy pack the traverse then we quickly climbed to the base of the chimney. Exocet it's a unbeliavable chimney filled with ice. I tried to climb the chimney without hitting Michi with pieces of ice, the amount of expletives i could hear coming from underneath suggested i had little success.After a slab a ridge and a mushroom we were shooking hands atop of Standhart.
It was10.30 AM , the weather was not really good but we started rapping down to col dei Sogni.
In front of us is now Punta Herron and his Spigolo dei Bimbi a route climbed in 1991 by Salvaterra,Cavallaro and Vidi during a early and futuristic attempt oh this Traverse.

Short fixing on Spigolo dei Bimbi

The quality and exposure of this climb is simply unreal. We reach the base of the summit mushroom at 16h30,that's were is possible to set a good bivy on a terrace. Weather was still suspect.We could see clouds coming from the north,which is unusual, it seemed like there was threat of thunderstorm which is a rare happening.
Into the tunnel
After a windy bivuac we climbed up the mushroom.On top of  Punta Herron we were welcomed by more wind and cold temperature,not quite the best conditions to climb up Huber-Schnarf on Torre Egger.
It was really disappointing because Egger summit looked so close but we were here for the Traverse and our chance to do it by this weather were zero. I really didn't felt it was a once in a lifetime chance to climb Egger.
We rappelled down The Sigolo dei Bimbi then down into the East side of the Col along Toboggan.
It  didn't took long to understand why the first ascensionist called this system of ramps and chimneys Toboggan ice collapsing from the mushrooms made our descent interesting. After many rappels and a lot of walk i had a last glance at the mountains. Next year.

A few days before my flight back home i had the chance of another beautiful day.This time i was alone. I climbed up Agufa Guillaumet by Brenner Moschioni route

2 mt boulder problem to reach the top
Vieuw over Torre Group from the top
This trip was definetely a good experience. I will be back soon.

Aucun commentaire:

Enregistrer un commentaire