Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Happened in Patagonia?

Most have likely read about my and Hayden Kennedy's trip to the Cerro Torre range in southern Patagonia this past winter, so I won't go into much detail. We had what I would describe as an audacious season, climbing all four Torres (Standhardt, Herron, Egger, Cerro Torre) in fine fast style. Also, a new route on another beautiful face we called The Gentleman's Club. We managed to be the first to skip the hundreds of bolts placed along Cerro Torre's southeast ridge, what they called a 'fair means' ascent. We then proceeded to remove over a hundred bolts from the mountain, restoring the summit of the Torre to its rightful place amongst the most difficult spots on the planet to reach.

The alpine Fitz tease above the Rio de las Vueltas.

Hayden and I on the summit of Torre Egger.

Many legendary figures spoke out in support of our actions, some vilified us. Both are equally unimportant - that's their story, not ours. I've included links below to some opinions, if anyone is keen to read a bunch of people's thoughts on our actions. If not please skip ahead to a couple photos from climbing in Patagonia with Hayden Kennedy, and a few of what I've been up to recently:

An Impossible Mountain by Rolando Garibotti
A Word from Yvon Chouinard
Taliban on Cerro Torre by Stefano Lovison
Cerro Torre by Mario Conti
Deviations from Reason by Kelly Cordes
Cerro Torre Gets The Chop from National Geographic Adventure
Cerro Torre by Peter Beal
Compressor Chopped
Hayden Kennedy Interview/Podcast Enormocast

HK in the Exocet ice chimney.

HK follows a rad ice tunnel on Punta Herron.

HK styles the Cerro Torre headwall.

The Torres

It was great to be back home in Squamish in early spring. I did some awesome steep skiing in the coast range and some huge days of powder slaying with some key motivated brothers. My fitness was nearing an all time high. Almost every day I would charge up the backside of the Squamish Chief with a heavily loaded paraglider bag. Perfect training for alpinism - and I could fly off and land some 200' from my house.

Scoping out the Prow and Pan Walls on my glider. I called up fellow Squamish pilot Paul McSorley just before I launched and he took these shots from his front deck.

In Squamish in winter, it stops raining and the winds pick up a little pretty much every day. If you time it right you can fly almost every day. Paul McSorley photo.

The bad news came that my expedition to Pakistan fell threw. I was bummed. To cheer up I boarded a plane for France a couple days later with alpine climbing gear, skis, and a paraglider. I was planning on a mountain holiday of north faces, steep skiing, and lots of flying in the Chamonix area. The weather would not cooperate, forcing us pretty soon to the south of France for sunny sport climbing and world class flying in the historic Gorges du Verdon. Not a bad compromise!

Tony grimping high above the lake... rocking the beret hard.

Me and Touch flying above the town of Moustier St. Marie. Paul McSorley Photo.

Touch on a classic Verdon pitch of 6c.

Paul McSorley photo.

Paul McSorley photo.

Walking to launch. Paul McSorley photo.

But launching before a coffee would be so sauvage... Paul McSorley photo.

High wind launch in Verdon. Paul McSorley photo.

Normally I would have been confused as to were to go, but luckily I had this arrow to show the way. Paul McSorley photo.

Cocktail hour with Pennings and Jimmy on the rim of the gorge! Paul McSorley photo.

Puffy clouds or excessive chalking? Paul McSorley photo.

Paul McSorley photo.

Paul McSorley photo.

Paul McSorley photo.

I'm not sure if Paul ruined this photo or made it way better...

Tony, flying like Jesus. Paul McSorley photos.

Annecy, Tony's village. Paul McSorley photo.

Oblig Cham cocktail hour. Paul McSorley photo.

Local cliff launch with Austin and Pablo.

HK and Troutman. On Acid.