Cerro Torre - South face
4. Infinito Sud
1200m 6b A4 70˚
Ermanno Salvaterra, Piergiorgio Vidi and Roberto Manni (Italy), 3-26/11/1995.
Description. It follows a very difficult line up the very center of the south face, between the two Slovene routes. At the hanging icefield Infinito Sud joins the South Face route, which in turn joins the Compressor route. Above the icefield Salvaterra attempted to climb an independent line to the summit, along the SE edge of the summit headwall, but bad weather and lack of food forced him to give up. Salvaterra, who lead every pitch, hand drilled 40 rivets in the entire route, but placed no bolts in between pitches.
History. The first ascentionists spent 24 days on the wall, taking a 200-kilogram box-style porta-ledge, which was transported to the base of the route by helicopter. The climb was completed in capsule style, with 6 different camps: Pensione Prime Rose, Hotel Miguel, Hotel Piazza Centrale, Ostello Volante, Hotel Esperanza and Hotel Freezer. After making several attempts in dreadful weather to reach the summit via an independent line up the left edge of the summit headwall (“we can’t climb because we are flying”), they exhausted their provisions and were constraint to retreat. On some of these summit attempts the ropes were so iced up that their diameter had increased to 10 cm... Once they decided to retreat they had to work for several hours preparing all the equipment and the Box for the flight down. For this they had brought a specially designed parachute, intended to slow down the descent of the Box, ensuring in that way that they would be able to recover it. Unluckily, as the Box slid off the icefield the parachute collapsed sending the Box on a wild ride into the shadows of the South Face. Two days later, having rappelled down the SE ridge, they searched for the box but were unable to find it, managing to recover only one of their several haulbags.
This climb is one of the most significant in the history of Patagonia. The first ascent of such a face without the use of fixed ropes is praiseworthy, but the use of the helicopter and the Box, and the inability of the first ascentionists to retrieve it have unfortunately tainted it. In retrospect Salvaterra believes they would have been much better off using modified portaledges, such as the ones he later used successfully on the east face of Cerro Torre. Describing the name of the route Ermanno wrote, “Infinito Sud, an infinite journey on an infinite wall.”
Salvaterra, together with Fabio Leoni and Mauro Giovanazzi attempted this line the previous year, climbing the lower 200 meters, but the death of Fabio Stedile while descending the SE ridge sunk them and with heavy hearts they decided to return home.
Approach. Niponino to Glaciar Adela Superior.
Gear. Clone Ermanno and bring him with you.
Descent. SE ridge.
Bibliography. AAJ 1996 p. 4-10; High magazine 164 p. 25-27; Alp magazine 132 p. 25-26; Rivista della Montagna 187 p. 8-9; CAI-Rivista Mensile 1996/4 p. 60-64; Desnivel magazine 117 p. 24-30; Annales GHM 95/96 p. 50-51, p. 65; Bolletino-SAT 1996/1 p. 25-27; Alta Montaña 3 p. 15-17.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Cerro Torre south face
Cerro Torre south face
Cerro Torre southwest face