Aguja Standhardt, Punta Herron, Torre Egger and Cerro Torre
Travesía del Torre
1600m 90˚ 6b+ C1
Rolando Garibotti and Colin Haley, January 2008.
Description. There are several alternatives to accomplish this traverse. The way it was climbed in 2008 involved climbing Exocet on Standhardt (500m 5 WI6), rappeling to the col dei Sogni (5 raps), climbing Spigolo dei Bimbi on Herron -with some variations due to frost- (350m 6b 90˚), rappeling to the col de Lux (1 rap), climbing the Huber-Schnarf route on Torre Egger –again with some variations due to frost- (200m 6b 80˚), rappeling west of the American Torre Egger route to the Egger-Torre col (6 raps), climbing El Arca de los Vientos to the west ridge (500m 6b+ C1 90˚) and climbing the last 100 meters via the Ragni route (90˚), to then descend via the SE ridge (20 raps aprox). In previous attempts this traverse had been tried climbing Exocet, but also Festerville or Otra vez on Standhardt. Options on Cerro Torre could also include a more direct line up the north face. Difficulty wise all the options are roughly similar, but will vary greatly depending on conditions.
None of the climbing in this traverse is "extreme". There are no committing pitches, no pitches where there is mandatory free climbing far away from good protection. All the belay and rappel anchors are solid. The main difficulties are logistical rather than techincal. It takes a lot of experience to know what gear to carry, what an adequate bivy kit is, how to move efficiently in such varied terrain, how to judge conditions, etc, but the climbing itself, as the grades confirm, is not hard.
History. Italian Andrea Sarchi is widely credited with the original idea, sometime in the mid 1980s. Italians Maurizio Giarolli, Elio Orlandi, Ermanno Salvaterra and Sarchi carried out the first attempts in the late 1980s. In 1991 Salvaterra, together with Adriano Cavallaro and Ferruccio Vidi managed to climb past Standhardt to the top of Punta Herron. They bivied three times, once at the base of the Standhardt summit mushroom and twice at the col dei Sogni, on the way up and on the way down. Theirs was quite possibly the first ascent of Punta Herron.
Over the following 15 years the traverse saw a few attempts, but none went as far as Salvaterra had managed to go. In 2005, German Thomas Huber and Swiss Andi Schnarf climbed Standhardt via Festerville, then continued on reaching the summit of Herron and descending to the col de Lux where they bivied. The following morning they climbed to the top of Egger and descended via Titanic. A week earlier they had narrowly missed an Egger ascent with Slovene Rok Zalokar, when they climbed Bimbi from the Standhardt east face ramp.
In late 2006, after having climbed Cerro Torre from the north via a new route, El Arca de los Vientos Salvaterra, together with Alessandro Beltrami and Garibotti made an attempt on the traverse but did not manage to climb beyond the col dei Sogni. In late 2007 Garibotti, climbing with American Hans Johnstone climbed Standhardt via Festerville to an “early” bivy at the col de Sogni due to bad weather. The next day they climbed over Herrron and Egger to bivy on NW face of Cerro Torre. On day three they climbed 6 pitches up El Arca, but were stopped by a huge mushroom on dead vertical ground. They retreated down the American Torre Egger route. During those same few days and climbing a few hours behind Garibotti and Johnstone, Salvaterra together with Beltrami, Mirko Masè, and Fabio Salvadei climbed Otra vez on Standhardt and bivied below the summit, climbing to the top of Egger on their second day to then, on day three descend to the Egger-Torre col and retreat via the American Egger route.
In late January 2008 Garibotti and Haley completed the traverse. On their first day they climbed in bad weather, climbing Exocet and reaching the summit Standhardt at noon (12PM). They continued on rappeling to the Col de los Sueños climbing Spigolo dei Bimbi to bivy at the base of Punta Herron's rime mushrooms. On Spigolo dei Bimbi they lost much time due to wind (to 11 knots at 10m, as per the NOAA meteogram scale) and rime covered rock. The rime forced them to climb a harder variation further east for at least two of the five pitches. The next day they climbed over Herron and Egger to bivy four pitches up the NW face of Cerro Torre, stopping early (around 4:30 PM) because of unusually warm weather which in the afternoon caused spontaneous rime discharges almost everywhere, making climbing too dangerous a proposition. On Egger they had also found rime covered rock that forced them to climb a one pitch run-out variation to the left of the Huber-Schnarf route (the original line, including the crux was rime covered). On day three they climbed the upper part of El Arca, again finding much rime (far more than during the first ascent of El Arca), reaching the base of Torre’s summit mushroom and managing to climb 15 meters before deciding to bivy once more. The Ragni route had not been climbed that year so they found the last mushroom in "virgin" condition. On day four they climbed the remainder of that last pitch, reaching the summit of Torre to descend the SE ridge, reaching the glacier before sunset.
Second ascent and first one day ascent. In early 2016, eight years after the first ascent, Colin Haley repeated the Torre Traverse, this time with Alex Honnold, in a 20:40 hour blitz. They started from Col Standhardt at 3:20am, reaching the summit after 4:09hs, taking 3:11hs from there to the summit of Punta Herron and 2:07hs from there to the summit of Torre Egger. Bad conditions on Cerro Torre slowed them down, reaching the summit at midnight (Haley’s eighth ascent of the peak), 20:40hs after leaving the Col Standhardt. They descended then Filo Sureste, returning to their tent 32 hours after they’d left. They climbed Cerro Torre via the Directa de la Mentira. The fact that now the Travesía del Torre is a day-climb is mind-blowing. Not surprisingly it was Alex who conceived it that way, someone quite used to blowing past pre-conceptions and myths. Haley described it as the best day of climbing in his life. They carried no stove or bivy gear.
A year earlier the same team had come mighty close to doing the second ascent in a day, retreating from the base of the second to last pitch after 22 hours of climbing.
Thomas Huber (DE) has made many attempts to repeat the Travesía del Torre, the first back in 2006. In early 2015, with Andi Schnarf (CH) and Tomas Aguilo (AR) he managed to climb past Torre Egger over two days, giving up at the Egger-Torre col.
Approach. Col Standhardt.
Descent. Via the SE ridge or Ragni route.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Torre Egger and Aguja Standhardt
Punta Herron north face
Punta Herron south face
Torre Egger north face
Torre Egger south face
Cerro Torre northwest face
Cerro Torre north face
Cerro Torre west face