In February 2014, Thomas Huber and Mario Walder tried their luck in Cerro Torre Valley. In spite of good weather, they were forced to change plans. Beyond the routes themselves, Thomas talks about how their adventures in Patagonia remain first and foremost a voyage through a spectacular pristine wilderness.
A relaxing season for Cerro Torre!
Some say that this season was the worst in 20 years. Since November there has not been any significant window of good weather. Compared to the hundred or so ascents in 2013, the ice-covered Cerro Torre was able to take a break this season. Mario and I arrived late in Patagonia – at the beginning of February – right when the season's first real period of stable weather was forecasted. Some said that we brought Europe's nice weather with us. Finally, five straight days of sunny skies. Climbers spread throughout the mountains in search of their own personal adventure. Tommy Caldwell and Alexander Honnold, two well-known climbers, took up position at Paso Guillaumet. We headed out to the Cerro Torre Valley. In spite of perfect weather we were not able to climb much. Everything south facing as well as the Torres were covered in a thick layer of ice. We were once again forced to postpone our project and decided to climb the "Chiaro de Luna" on Aguja Saint Exupéry for a perfect day of climbing. Tommy and Alex had better luck with conditions and were able to complete their project, probably the only major realization possible given the circumstances. They traversed the entire Fitz Roy Range from north to south. Unbelievable! The old adage "being at the right place at the right time" says it all!
Waiting for our chance
We were still waiting for our chance. However, towards the end of February it snowed again in the mountains and any hopes of attempting our project were obliterated. We took advantage of three sunny days and tried to climb the Torre via the "Corkscrew," a combination of the southeast ridge and the west face. We climbed the Compressor Route to the Ice Towers and then traversed the vast ice field to "Helmo's" west face. Wonderful weather, an ideal spot to bivy, no wind, a sunset in one of the most beautiful places on the planet; we couldn't have been more content. Only 8 more pitches to the summit. Eight months ago I was here for a winter ascent of the Torre via the "Ferrari" route with Stephan Siegrist, Dan Arnold, and Tibu Villavicencio. Just before sunset we saw an Argentine team top out on the summit of Torre Egger. Awesome, we were excited for them as well. It's moments like this that explain why we're here.
When the windy weather blows
In spite of the clear star-filled sky, a fierce wind all of a sudden started to blow. Patagonia, the land of stormy weather, stayed true to its reputation. With such strong winds we didn't have a chance and decided to turn around.
Two days later we were back in El Chalten and started preparing for our trip back home. The attempt was not a failure, we had made the right decision. We are already looking forward to future adventures, and this was certainly not the last time we'll set foot in Patagonia!
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