Cerro Piergiorgio - Northwest face
4. Via del Hermano
850m 6b+ A3
Herve Barmasse and Christian Brenna (Italy), February 2008, with help from Mario Conti and Giovanni Ongaro.
Description. The first 500 meters are mostly aid, following expanding flakes on dubious quality rock, interspersed with blank sections that were overcome by drilling bat-hooks (40 holes in all approximately). Most belays of this 29-pitch route have at least one bolt, on top of which only 6 progression bolts were placed.
History. It took ten years to complete this route. In 2007, Barmasse, Brenna and others placed approximately 400 meters of fixed rope. Because many of the ropes were frayed when they returned a year later they were forced to re-climb some of the pitches. To those existing fixed ropes they added a further 100 meters of fixed rope. The ropes were fixed to the base of an obvious chimney located 18 pitches up, where during their first summit attempt Giovanni Ongaro was hit by rockfall, hurting both his hands, forcing him to retreat and return to Italy. Finally their third summit attempt was successful. Christian and Herve set off at 2 a.m. reaching the summit ridge 24 hours later, retreating without reaching the actual summit. While descending they were unable to retrieve their fixed ropes, which are still in place.
They had decided to use fixed ropes after hearing that a group of Germans climbers had tried the face with portaledges, only to have the portaledges shredded by the wind (Salvaterra has used modified portaledges successfully in both west and east faces). In the report in the AAC Barmasse wrote, “Our climbing style was not ideal, but it was not unlike the ascent of Robert Jasper and Stefan Glowacz on Cerro Murallon [Glowacz and Jasper abandoned 500m of fixed rope on the wall—Ed.)”
The route was christened “La ruta del Hermano” in honor of the late Agostino Rocca whose family, specially his brother, was the expedition’s sponsor. Rocca was one of Argentina’s richest men and died in an aviation accident together with wellknown Argentine alpinist Jose Luis Fonrouge.
The route follows in part a line attempted on repeated occasions by Casimiro Ferrari and other members of the Ragni di Lecco group. That said, only three pitches are left from the Ferrari’s line, the rest having disappeared due to rock fall. This forced Barmasse and Brenna to almost completely re-open the route, finding themselves climbing rock 15 meters deeper than old belay stations where the rock and cracks climbed years before had simply caved off.
Ferrari first attempted this line in 1994 with Italians Giuseppe Alippi, Mauro Girardi and Enrico Lanfranconi, and American Charlie Fowler. In February of 1995 he was back again, this time with Silvano Arrigoni, Mario Conti, Manuele Panzeri and Andrea Spandri. During this attempt they reached a high point some 500 meters up. Later in 1995 Giorgio Anghiliere and Valerio Carotta made an attempt, followed by an attempt by Silvano Arrigoni and Antonio Taglialegne in January of 1996, and later in February of 1996 a solo attempt by Antonio Taglialegne. All these attempts used the ropes fixed by Ferrari and others. During his solo attempt, while Taglialegne was jumaring one old fixed line, apparently a leftover from Ferrari’s 1974 ascent of the East Pillar of Fitz Roy, the rope snapped resulting in a 20 meters fall that was stopped thanks to a loose back up self belay. In neither of the last two attempts was the high point pushed further than the February of 1995 high point.
In 2003 Mario Conti led another unsuccesful attempt to complete the route, followed by an attempt in 2007 mentioned earlier in the text.
In 1996 French Stephane Benoist, Stephane Gavard, Pierre Menats and Jerôme Thiniers attempted a line just right of the Ferrari’s line. They climbed 3 new pitches for which they drilled some 40 holes for rivets, bathooks and bolts.
Approach. Glaciar Marconi.
Descent. Via the same route.
Bibliography. High magazine 152 p. 13; High magazine 164 p. 29-30; Lo Scarpone 1995/4 p. 13.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Cerro Piergiorgio - Northwest face
Cerro Piergiorgio - West face