Rock and Ice: News, Issue 159

This article first appeared in Issue 159 of Rock and Ice magazine.

Feeding the Rat



AFTER TWO MONTHS of socked-in weather, the Patagonian climbing season kicked off in the first week of 2007. During a four-day weather window, Kelly Cordes and Colin Haley teamed up on Cerro Torre to link the 1994 Marsigny-Parkin route (ED+) with the top 2,000 feet of the 1974 West Face route (ED+ A2), reaching the summit on January 6.

With Cordes leading, the team simul-climbed the 2,600-foot Marsigny-Parkin in eight hours.

After a rest at the Col of Hope, Haley led the West Face, reaching the top of the headwall in six-and-a-half hours. Three pitches from the summit, Haley and Cordes bivouacked. The next morning, they tackled the the summit mushrooms.

“The key was finding natural tunnels, where sometimes you can use chimney techniques, through the rime mushrooms,” Haley said. “It’s really bizarre climbing.”

Haley says the crux was a section of overhanging snow leading to a natural tunnel. To cross the steep snow, Haley dug and burrowed through a tunnel he made.

“I had a couple pickets pounded in,” Haley says, “but I don’t know if they would’ve held a fall. The best piece of pro was my tunnel—it was like a gigantic v-thread.”

Cordes and Haley topped out Cerro Torre on the afternoon of January 6, 32 hours after leaving the glacier, then descended via the Compressor route. Their ascent marks the first time the Marsigny-Parkin has been climbed to the summit, a prime objective in the region since Francois Marsigny and Andy Parkin had to retreat at the Col of Hope in 1994.

Across the Torre Valley, Dave Sharratt and Freddie Wilkinson climbed a new route, El Sacrificio del Raton (5.11 A1), on the south face of Poincenot, battling wide cracks and crumbly rock on the 3,900-foot line.

Sharratt and Wilkinson spent a day and a half on their new line, climbing 2,500 feet of steep rock on Poincenot’s south face to the Fonrouge route, along which they simul-climbed another 1,400 feet to the summit.

“The process of imagining and then climbing a line of passage is an art,” Sharratt said. “This one is beautiful from afar, but not so nice up close. The adventure and experience, though, I wouldn’t change those at all.”