By the end of February, 2007, if you had asked any of the international talent in Argentine Patagonia what kind of season it was, they would have said, “not so good,” or “very unstable,” or “unpredictable,” or “too windy, and cold.” Amongst a congregation of talented alpinists such as Alex Huber, Rolo Garibotti, Jon Walsh and Josh Wharton, to name only a few, two Swiss climbers, Cyrille Berthod (brother of the crack climbing phenom, Didier Berthod) and Simon Anthamatten came out of the season with eight major and two minor summits.
The Swiss pair, both twenty-three years young, summitted every peak in the Fitz Roy chain: (from SE to NW) Aguja de la S (2335m), Aguja Saint Exupery (2680m), Innominata (2501m), Aguja Poincenot (3002m), Fitz Roy (3375m), Mermoz (2732m) and Aguja Guillaumet (2593m) in Argentina’s Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.
They also made quick work of the Compressor route on Cerro Torre (3133m) in eleven hours from the furthest high camp, Niponino, on a day when almost no one else bothered leaving town. They said, however, that of all their summits–including the easiest peak of the area, Aguja De la S (see the March 8 NewsWire for the impressive first ascent of De la S’s steep south face)–they were least proud of Cerro Torre. Saddened by its bolts, which Berthod and Anthamatten say degrade the grandeur and demanding nature of the peak, the pair desires to return in the near future for a “fair” ascent (see the February 24 NewsWire for Wharton and Smith’s boltless attempt of the Compressor route).
Not only did the Swiss upstarts dispatch these summits, they climbed three via challenging routes. Aguja Saint Exupery they climbed via the Super-Trek variation (5.11) to Claro De Luna (5.10c); Innominata they climbed via Corallo (5.12 A0); Mermoz they climbed via the Red Pillar (5.12a). Although taking the often-done Franco Argentine route on Fitz Roy, they later went on to try the peak via the Kearney-Knight variation (5.11) to the Casarotto Pillar. The team reached the top of the Pillar in a raging storm and had to descend. They also did the two minor summits: El Mocho and Torre de la Media Luna, near the base of Cerro Torre. But more impressive than the number of peaks summitted in their first Patagonian season was their humble attitude, and their clear enjoyment of being in the mountains and covering terrain.