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Cerro Torre – “An Impossible Mountain”

In 1952, after making the first ascent of Cerro Fitz Roy, Frenchman Lionel Terray described the nearby Cerro Torre as “an impossible mountain,” a phrase that described well the ice-capped, mile-high granite needle. In early 1968 an Anglo-Argentine team composed of Martin Boysen, Mick Burke, Pete Crew, Jose Luis Fonrouge and Dougal Haston attempted the southeast ridge of Cerro Torre, managing to climb 450 meters above the Col of Patience without placing any bolts. In December of 1970 Italians Ezio Alimonta, Carlo Claus and Cesare Maestri climbed to within 60 meters of the summit, turning around while still on vertical ground, having placed upwards of 300 bolts with the help of a gas-powered air compressor. Courtesy of the use of the compressor, the “impossible mountain” was no more. In January of 1979 Americans Jim Bridwell and Steve Brewer completed Alimonta, Claus and Maestri’s near miss, finishing the so-called Compressor Route. In January of 2012 American Hayden Kennedy and Canadian Jason Kruk climbed the southeast ridge without using any of Maestri’s bolts for protection and during the descent chopped 120 of his bolts.

We, some of the many climbers who have devoted much energy over the last decades to climbing in the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massifs, shaping the region's climbing history, are in full support of the bolt removal:

Jorge Ackermann, Tomy Aguilo, Conrad Anker, Bjorn-Eivind Artun, Trym Atle Saeland, Scott Backes, Scott Bennett, Bjarte Bø, Carlos Botazzi, Martin Boysen, John Bragg, Ben Bransby, Chris Brazeau, Phil Burke, Tommy Caldwell, Ramiro Calvo, Ben Campbell-Kelly, Rab Carrington, Dave Carman, Robert Caspersen, Andy Cave, Yvon Chouinard, Carlos Comesaña, Kelly Cordes, Inaki Coussirat, Pete Crew, Sebastian De la Cruz, Alejandro Di Paola, Leo Dickinson, Ben Ditto, Jim Donini, Martin Donovan, Dana Drummond, Magnus Eriksson, Gabriel Fava, Nico Favresse, Silvia Fitzpatrick, Ralf Gantzhorn, Rolando Garibotti, Stefan Gatt, Chris Geisler, Jon Gleason, Gustavo Glickman, Milena Gomez, Colin Haley, Brian Hall, Kennan Harvey, Jorge Insua, Peter Janschek, Hans Johnstone, Neil Kauffman, Joel Kauffman, Hayden Kennedy, Michael Kennedy, Andy Kirkpatrick, Jason Kruk, Ole Lied, Whit Magro, Klemen Mali, Carlitos Molina, Marius Morstad, Avo Naccachian, Fermin Olaechea, Marius Olsen, Ian Parnell, Luciano Pera, Korra Pesce, Doerte Pietron, Michal Pitelka, Kate Rutherford, Ermanno Salvaterra, Mikey Schaefer, Stephan Siegrist, Pedro Skvarca, Zack Smith, Bruno Sourzac, Rick Sylvester, Jim Toman, Doug Tompkins, Jvan Tresch, Roberto Treu, Sean Villanueva, Adam Wainwright, Eamon Walsh, Jon Walsh, Josh Wharton, Andres Zegers

Although we have not climbed in Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massif we also support the removal of the Compressor Route bolts:

Vince Anderson, Chris Bonington, Mick Fowler, Steve House, Heinz Mariacher, Reinhold Messner, Paul Pritchard, Sonnie Trotter, Mark Twight

Editor’s note.

The many climbers in the first list have made important contributions to alpinism in the Chalten area including ascents such as the ones listed below. This list is meant to indicate their love for climbing in the Chalten Massif, their connection to the place, and a level of devotion that has helped shape its history. The ascents are in no particular order, and range from 1963 to 2013:

The first attempts to climb Supercanaleta on Cerro Fitz Roy (1963 and 64)

The first ascent of Supercanaleta (second ascent of Cerro Fitz Roy)

The first ascent of the California route (third ascent of Cerro Fitz Roy)

The second ascent of Cerro Torre and an impressive near miss on the east and north faces

The first attempt on the southeast ridge of Cerro Torre

The first ascents of Aguja Guillaumet, Torre Egger, Punta Herron, Cerro Piergiorgio, Volcan Lautaro, Aguja Mermoz, Aguja Rafael Juarez, Cumbre Este del Cerro Pollone, Aguja Cuatro Dedos, Aguja Tito Carrasco, Aguja Volonqui, Cerro Marconi Central, and the second ascent of Aguja Poincenot

Nine new routes on Cerro Fitz Roy

Two new routes on Torre Egger

Tthree new routes on Punta Herron

Three new routes on Aguja Standhardt

Seven new routes on Aguja Poincenot

Three new routes on Aguja Desmochada

Six new routes on Aguja Saint-Exupery

Three new routes on Aguja Mermoz

Nine new routes on Aguja Guillaumet

Ttwo new routes on Aguja de l’S

New routes on Aguja Pollone, Domo Blanco, De la Silla, Aguja Rafael Juarez, El Mocho, Aguja de la Medialuna, Mojón Rojo, Aguja Volonqui and Cuatro Dedos;

The first Argentine ascents of Cerro Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, Aguja Standhardt, Punta Herron, Aguja Poincenot and the Ragni route on Cerro Torre

The first free ascent of Linea de Eleganza on Cerro Fitz Roy's east face

The first free ascent of the Ferrari-El Corazón combo on Cerro Fitz Roy's east face

The first ascent of Infinito Sud on the south face of Cerro Torre

The first ascent of Quinque Anni ad Paradisum on the east face of Cerro Torre

The first ascent of the Torre Traverse

The first complete ascent of El Tiempo Perdido to the Ragni Route on Cerro Torre

The first ascent of El Arca de los Vientos on Cerro Torre

The first ascent of the Corkscrew on Cerro Torre and the first ascent of the Corkscrew by "fair means"

The first winter ascents of Cerro Torre, Fitz Roy, Torre Egger, Aguja Poincenot and Aguja Guillaumet, the first winter ascents of Vol de Nuit on Aguja Mermoz and the Ragni Route on Cerro Torre.

The first ascent of the Wave Effect Link-Up

The first ascent of the Pollone Traverse and the North Pillar Sit Start

The first to fourth ascents of the Care Bear Traverse

The first ascent of the Manos y Mas Manos Traverse

The second female ascent of Fitz Roy, the second and fourth female-team ascent of Fitz Roy, and the first female ascent of the Ragni Route on Cerro Torre

The first ascent and solo of the East Face of Cerro Adela

The second solo ascent of Supercanaleta on Cerro Fitz Roy

The first solo ascent of Aguja Standhardt

The second and third solo ascents of Aguja Saint-Exupery

The second and third solo ascents of Aguja Mermoz

The first solo ascents of Aguja Rafael Juarez and Aguja Guillaumet

Other notable contributions include spearheading the successful repeal of the climbing fee program that the National Park Administration (APN) attempted to pass in 2005; donating significant funds towards building the climber display in the Park's visitor centre; successfully repealing the motion by the Provincial Land Administration to pass to private control the area of Cerro Piergiorgio, Cerro Pollone and the north face of Fitz Roy; bringing to fruition a trail restoration project that involved donating 4400 man hours of work to the National Park (here); participating in a number of volunteer rescues; and creating a free online resource database of all mountaineering activity in the area.


The 2013 Piolets d'Or press release awarding a "special mention" to the de-bolting here.

Yvon Chouinard’s thoughts here.

Carlos Comesaña’s thoughts here.

Kelly Cordes’, Senior Editor of the AAJ, thoughts here.

Sebastian De la Cruz’s thoughts here.

Rolando Garibotti’s thoughts here.

Colin Haley’s thoughts here.

Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk’s thoughts here.

Doug Tompkins’ thoughts here.


Jorge Ackermann, “Now who had the right to take bolts out? The ones who climbed the route without using the bolts had the right to take them out and Jason and Hayden chose to do this and I respect their decision. They climbed the headwall beautifully and I applauded them for it, this is a huge accomplishment in the world of climbing. A bit more discretion would have helped to keep the scandal under wraps but now it is done. In the end though, it is Cerro Torre that we are talking about and it seems that it is a mountain that does not incite discretion.”

Martin Boysen, “About time!”

Pete Crew, “It is time that the Maestri nonsense was knocked in the head once and for all.”

Ben Campbell-Kelly, “What could be better than having an iconic mountain with only challenging routes to the top? No gimmicks and no via ferratas! It's exciting to see how the new generation is making its mark.”

Leo Dickinson, “The compressor route on Cerro Torre should never have been in existence – nature did such a beautiful job at making Cerro Torre a world class mountain. The bolt route has been a scar on the history of mountaineering for too long..”

Nico Favresse, "I am in agreement [with the de-bolting]. It is something simbolic, youngsters coming with a new style inpiring people to climb in a cleaner style. History..., ok, but for me it is more important to respect the rock. If someone repeats one of our routes and does not need one of the bolts and wants to take it out I would be ok with it. [...] I think it is important not to view the mountains from with an egotistical vision. Many people that climbed with the bolts and others that know they won't be able to climb it without them [oppose the debolting] and that to me is egotistical. It is far more important to leave the rock as clean as possible."

Reinhold Messner, “Maestri was free to put the bolts in 1970, Jason and Hayden were free to take the bolts out. Cesare demonstrated that CT was possible with the compressor, Jason and Hayden demonstrated that it was possible without. They have all my respect – for having liberated the Compressor route from the grips of conquest alpinism, a style that we should finally get over with.”

Pedro Skvarca wrote, “Personally I believe that the bolts should have never been placed. I was never in agreement with Maestri’s action, he made a grave mistake and breached the ethics of mountaineering.”

Mark Twight , “Having grown up in the culture of climbing that I knew, and been mentored by the men who inspired and educated me, I never thought I would see the day that anyone would be ‘against’ chopping those bolts.”


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