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25.02.2010

Cerro Torre 09/10 review

The Patagonia adventure is over for this time. On February 5, almost three weeks before our planned return, we entered the plane from El Calafate to Tyrol. The reason was the unreasonable Patagonian weather and the bad climbing conditions – we hadn’t been climbing on the Cerro Torre for more than a month.

Daniel and I were, however, able to set up camp “Nipo Nino” on the glacier and the bivouac on the Col de la Paciencia relatively fast because of a longer stretch of fair weather at the beginning of our expedition. The first free-climbing attempts were also very promising… We already freed everything up to the bolt traverse, but three times we had to turn around at this point. Twice it was too dangerous because of ice avalanches, once we were literally blown back down to the valley by a storm.  We had no idea then that this weather-window would in fact be the only one in this Patagonian summer… we didn’t even see the Torre for a month, something that hasn’t happened for about 15 years according to the locals.  As the clouds then finally cleared, we saw that the mountain had been shrouded in white snow and ice. It was a truly beautiful sight, but really too dangerous to climb.

From this years attempt on Cerro Torre I took home a lot of experience and memories of a world of mountains so majestic that you first realize how big they are when you leave Patagonia. It’s the dimensions that shift: The walls are higher, the storms more powerful and the experiences more intensive. Walls we can only dream of at home aren’t even looked at over there, as they drown in the crowd of the gigantic mountains surrounding them.

But Daniel and I didn’t only collect experiences on the mountain, but we also learned a lot in the little village of El Chalten from top mountaineers like Huberbuam, Toni Ponholzer, Roger Schäli and Simon Gietl and many more.

I’m sure I’ll return. My goal to freeclimb the Compressor route on Cerro Torre, and the little village El Chalten and its surroundings simply fascinate me. But now I have to settle back in at home and get ready for the upcoming competitions. First now, at home, I’ve noticed how much the time in Patagonia has influenced me.

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