Fitz Roy - Northwest face
17. Filo Noroeste (Afanassieff)
17.1 Los Últimos Días del Paraíso
17.2 Chercheur de l'Absolu
1550m 30˚ 6a+
Jean and Michel Afanassieff, Guy Abert and Jean Fabre (France), 27/12/1979. With support from Gilles Sourice (cameraman).
Description. One of the longer routes in the massif. It involves mainly moderate climbing following the line of least resistance up the northwest ridge, first on the north side of the ridge, then around on its south side, later straight up it. Expect to find some sandy and flaky rock in the first half. The crux is steep ice choked crack about 800 meters up, that is freeclimbed on the “outside”, clipping a few pins and placing a few pieces of protection on it’s side walls. It is an enjoyable climb, but except for the crux and the following pitch it has no climbing that one might consider attractive. It is a great mountain adventure, with plenty of loose blocks and fun problem solving.
History. In 1976 Jean Afanassieff and Abert unsuccessfully attempted the line with Patrice Bodin. The first ascent party fixed 300 meters of rope, then climbed the remaining 1300 meters alpine style, reaching the summit on their fourth day. On day three and four they climbed in the middle of a raging storm describing, “la ambiance est démoniaque, les cheminées se transforment en tuyère, on a l’impression de grimper avec un 747 au-dessus de la tête”. They descended the route with 45 rappels that required two days. Their ascent was a significant step forward for Patagonian climbing, a first ascent of such magnitude accomplished with so little equipment and fixed rope (six days up and down with no sleeping bags...). Apparently the movie they produced is quite good. The route has been repeated several times, with parties taking between 24 to 36 hours to reach the summit (no bivy-less ascent yet).
Jean Fabre describes the conditions, “Je n’ai jamais connu de montagne plus réberbative que le Fitz Roy un jour de tempête. Si les Grecs de l’Antiquité avaient practiqué l’andinisme, ils auraient fait siéger Eole au sommet d’El Chalten et ca puissance aurait sans doute détrôné la foudre de Jupiter...”
Rocamora-Tarditti variation (17.4). In early 2012 Gabriel "Mecha" Rocamora and Susy Tarditti climbed a new 300-meter variation at the top, heading straight to the summit. Where the route heads left to the abandoned backpack, they continued straight, climbing a long pitch to reach a 15m wide box like feature. Along this they climbed 70m to a series of "flake" roofs which they passed on the right. After two more pitches they headed slightly left, then straight up to reach the summit ridge 100m west of the actual summit. This is a very "classy" finish.
Also in 2012 Gustavo Capria and Juan Moyano added a 100-meter sit-start, climbing obvious slabs leading to the normal start of the climb. A number of parties have also climbed a number of variations in the middle section. The most important one avoids the crux off-width by climbing left (6b C1).
Female ascents: Paula Alegre with a partner, 2009. First team female ascent and second team female ascent of Fitz by Milena Gomez (AR) and Dörte Pietron (DE) in 2010. Susy Tarditti (AR) via a major new variation in 1/2012 (see above). Second team female ascent and third team female ascent of Fitz by Cintia Percivati and Luciana Tessio (AR) in 2/2012. Anna Pfaff (US) and partners, 2/2012 (climbing the last 500m with a broken foot!). Third team female ascent and fifth team female ascent of Fitz Nastja Davidova and Tina Di Batista (SI) in 2/2013 (in 2004 Di Batista, together with Monika Kambic -AR/SI- had done the first team female ascent of Fitz via the Franco-Argentina link-up).
Solo ascent: None to date, what are you waiting for?
Approach. Paso Cuadrado and Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte.
Descent. A descent along the route would be treacherous because of bad belays and endless blocks and flakes. Climbing up and over the summit to descend the Franco-Argentina is recommended.
Alpinisme et Randonee 18 p. 21-25; AAJ 1981 p.238; La Montagne et Alpinisme 1980/2 p.286-293.