Type: Trad, Mixed, Ice, Snow, Alpine, 3500 ft, 24 pitches, Grade V
FA: Daniele Chiappa, Mario Conti, Casimiro Ferrari, Pino Negri - 1974.
Page Views: 486 total · 67/month
Shared By: SirTobyThe3rd M. on Feb 15, 2019 with improvements by Priti Wright
Admins: Tony Yeary, Camster (Rhymes with Hamster), Mauricio Herrera Cuadra

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Description

Dubbed the best ice climb in Patagonia, it could potential be the best ice and mixed climb in the world. It is much more complex and longer than the guidebook would suggest. Some of the complexities depend on the condition of the climb and the season. Some arise from the remote location - there is much more to it than the rating. Below is the description and suggested itinerary for someone fit, technically prepared and hoping to complete the route.

Approach from El Chalten to Niponino. 9km on great trail to Lake Torre and climber trail/loose talus or dry glacier walking on rugged terrain from there for about as much. Expect this day to take 5-7 hours, especially if you have not gone up this way. Depending on the year, one can approach on the left or the right side of the lake. Get the beta for the season in Chalten. Left side usually requires a fixed tyrolean traverse over a river, hike up the valley, descent down steep loose slopes on a fixed line, hie further up to little river and access to the dry glacier which may or may not need crampons. Dry glacier usually has multiple jumps over small rivers, which may be sketchy, especially when windy and wet.
Right side of the lake is not as complicated but very loose at times. Probably the better way overall. Hike towards the end of the lake on intermittent ok trail, gain a bit of elevation and traverse the loose slope towards Niponino. Look for cairns to mark the way.

Niponino to Standhardt col and to camp below Filo Rosso. In good conditions, fit parties may be able to go all the way to Col De La Esperanza, which would be a great campsite to use for the summit push. Expect this day to take 8-14 hours to Filo Rosso, and additional 3-5 to Esperanza, depending on conditions.
From Niponino, hike up the Torre Valley and aim for the ice slope on the right side of a big rock hill on the left side of the valley. It is reached about 30 minutes to an hour of leaving camp. Pass it on its right side and trend left, towards the glacier extending down from the col. Hike on the right side of slabby rock tongue and up the glacier, route finding over complicated terrain and towards the col. The shrund is usually passed on the right side and from there, the terrain steepens to about 50 degrees, with the steepest climbing to the pass being at about 60 degrees. Usually good neve or alpine ice for 200M above the shrund. From the col, down-climb 100 feet and find the rap station on skiers right. There is a fixed line here too. Make a 50M rap and find another station on the same side. More fixed lines there. Make another 55M rap.
From the bottom, you will have to climb over a steep, wind loaded snow slope with an occasional cornice and descent on skiers right of a giant rock buttress. There are a few large crevasses on this slope, but for the most part you will find 45-55 degree snow/ice down-climbing for about 1000 feet. Below the steep rock buttress, cut over it at a snowy ramp heading skiers left, towards Filo Rosso. You want to aim to cross between two huge crevasses located below a major rock buttress with a large serac over it. Don't hang out below there for long and stay roped up. After that ascend the 35 degree snow slopes/glacier towards Filo Rosso and the camp.

Route:
From camp below Filo Rosso, hike up, towards the prominent couloir for about 500+ feet. Depending on the time of season, mixed climbing may start a few pitches lower than usual. Look for a prominent weakness on the central part of the couloir. m4-5 for 2-4 pitches, depending on the season. Good gear and fun climbing with mostly good gear. Presence or absence of ice may make it easier or harder. Temps may make the terrain dry or wet. Use your best judgement, slides are possible on this terrain.

From top of the mixed pitches, hike about 600 feet, up to Esperanza.

From Esperanza, cross the shrund on the central/left side and climb snice/snow or hard ice (depending on the year) for about 200 Meters, till you turn the corner, where the terrain steepens. Lower 200M may usually be simul climbed or soloed by parties feeling ok on this terrain. Four more pitches of steeper WI3+ish ice or easier snice will take you to the big ledge below the first mushroom pitches. Depending on the season, you may find a pass on the left, or on the right side. At times, natural tunnel forms here. But usually one can get to the top of the Elmo in two pitches from the big ledge.
From top of the Elmo traverse the exposed ridge for about 60M to the left leaning ledge which traverses left and to the base of the mixed pitches.
3 long mixed pitches with M4/wi4 (not picked out grades here) climbing on the central/right side of the mixed gully lead up and to the base of the Headwall. Traverse left and up to the big ledge mid way up the headwall - wi4-5. Consistency of ice dictates the ratings. Last 45M pitch is usually steeper and tougher and will feal wi5++ when brittle ice is present on the slightly overhanging terrain, after everything you have already climbed. Fixed anchor on top of the pitch.

Traverse left, to a major natural tunnel - wide and steep, or further, to a tight tunnel, which may require a lot more work. WI3-5 + rime climbing, depending on conditions and variation. 60M

Left of the buttress or right of the buttress is usually a natural tunnel. Depends on the year and the season. Left way was maybe M4/wi3+ PG13-R, when I did it. Guidebook gives this pitch 80 degree rime. It depends on conditions, may take 30 mins to 3 hours.

Traverse to the final mushroom pitch via a short exposed ridge and climb anything from 90-95degree rime to a semi natural tunnel with good ice for pro. Some people may want to use wings, or pickets, on best years normal tools can work, but one should not depend on it...55M

Wild summit. Rap from a bollard, picket, or bury a stuff sack (most commonly used method.

In OK conditions raps should take about 4-6 hours, depending on clusters, route finding, wind, skills, daylight. If climbing the route from Filo Rosso and you have not done it in the past, do your best to start by midnight and expect to rap the route in the dark, unless you are one of the top alpinists on the planet. Even if you are...start very early, especially if the lower route is composed of hard ice and you have to do 4 mixed pitches instead of the 2 to start. From the base of the mixed pitches, it is about 24 pitches to the top, with some walking in between.

Location

Located on the West side of Cerro Torre and usually approached from the town of Chalten over two days. The usual approach is through Niponino and col Standhardt and takes most competent parties two days, although can be done in a long day by the fittest of the fit. Helps to have the gear cached in Niponino.

Protection

Ice screws, cams to BD #2, picket(s), ice tools, crampons, wings, v-thread tool, stuff sacks, two 60M ropes.

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