ARGENTINE PATAGONIA

Posted on: July 1, 2006


On Christmas Eve—just as a four-day high-pressure system set in—I found myself drinking vino tinta and trying to recite 'Twas the Night before Christmas in the Polackos Bivouac with eight awesome friends. On Christmas Day I slept through the alarm, then nursed a hangover while Dave "the Monster" Sharratt pinkpointed the impressive 5.12+ crack splitting the Polackos boulder. The next day Dave, Taki Miyamota, Paul Turecki and I established a new route, Via Sin Nombre, on Torre Innominata. The line follows the first continuous crack system left of the northwest arete; all but two pitches were freed on lead at 5.11+. Special thanks go to Turecki, self-proclaimed "big-wall janitor" who installed bomber, equalized sixty-meter rap anchors down the route, bringing us safely back to our packs by dark. The easy-bail factor should make this climb a popular choice.

Taki Miyamoto on the first ascent of Via Sin Nombre (V 5.11+ A1, 11 pitches), on Torre Innominata. Miyamoto, Dave Sharratt, Paul Turecki and Freddie Wilkinson climbed the route December 26; a week later, with Miyamoto and Wilkinson in support, Sharratt succeeded in freeing the two aid pitches at 5.12. [Photo] Steve "Crusher" Bartlett

A week later Dave freed the two aid pitches at 5.12 in weather cold enough that the DAS parkas never came off. "I guess I've climbed at Rumney in weather worse than this" was his only comment. We rapped in sporty conditions three 5.10 pitches from the top—not the perfect free send, but a dazzling show of strength and cojones on the part of Mr. Sharratt.

advertisement

On January 21, with two days left before our bus ride to Calafate, Dave and I trudged up to Polackos one more time. We had spent most of the last month obsessing over a new line on Desmochada, a beautiful crack/corner system left of the Dieta del Lagarto variation to El Facon (V+ 5.12a A1, 16 pitches, Bowers-Bransby-Tresch, 2004). I had flubbed a forecast and told everyone in camp it looked good (Dean, Marko, Stephen: I'm sorry about that bivy!), consequently putting us out of position when the good weather actually came. This was our last chance.

It was raining when the alarm went off, so we didn't leave camp until 10 a.m. We fired up the approach to Desmochada and started the proper climbing around 1 p.m. Pitch after pitch of perfect granite cracks passed by. After weeks of psyching for the climb, to be up there was just surreal. Nightfall broke our trance three pitches from the top, but I had brought the Monster with me for just such situations. Dave deftly navigated us left of the final chimney and onto the summit in total darkness. The weather was turning, so we started to rappel immediately. My memory of the descent is a flickering collage of stuck ropes, single-point anchors and tandem rappelling down snowy slabs. What counts is we made it, safe and sound, back in Chalten by midnight after forty hours on the go. Of course we missed our alarm and barely made the 6 a.m. bus the next morning.... The Sound and the Fury is fourteen pitches long and goes at 5.11 A1.

Freddie Wilkinson, Upper Refuse, New Hampshire

Here at Alpinist, our small editorial staff works hard to create in-depth stories that are thoughtfully edited, thoroughly fact-checked and beautifully designed. Please consider supporting our efforts by subscribing.


Post a Comment

Login with your username and password below.
New User? Here's what to do.



Forgot your username or password?