Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Pollone Pics

Here are some more photos from our climb of Cerro Pollone a few weeks back:

Blake on the long approach, looking like he's ready for some 1980's vision of the future

Me leading somewhere on the 2000' West Pillar of Pollone. The climbing was truly perfect on the entire face, consisting of splitter white granite, many hand cracks, tons of corners and roofs, and a few dicey face traverses and flared cracks.
The most memorable pitch, though, might be one we didn't climb:
high on the face, visible from the approach, loomed a steep splitter off-width crack (too wide for hands, too small to full-body chimney). Our lone #4 camalot would provide no protection in this impressive fissure, and the climbing looking burly and sustained. I had already agreed that'd I'd lead it if it was the only way, so I spent a stressed night bivied just 100' below it. The next morning, though, I was able to lead left, around the arete, to a very climbable system of hand cracks that took us all the way to the summit!
Our bivy about 14 pitches up the West Pillar. The construction was completed on schedule and under budget by Blake and Scott, Alpine Contractors.

There will be snacks, there will!
A heap of good food for our second day on the route. Huge thanks to Larabar of Denver, Colorado for hooking us up with some tasty bars!

A series of photos from the long summit ridge. The entire climb was amazing, but the ridge traverse might have been the highlight. The views were of course incredible, and the climbing was, for the most part, pretty easy. From the summit of the West Pillar, we stayed roped up and led maybe 4-5 pitches across the knife edge ridge, encountering short bits of up and downclimbing on little towers, maybe up to 5.10. One more sustained vertical pitch (5.10) gained the summit proper, for which we had spectacular weather and high spirits.

Summit Alfajor!
The traverse from the Main summit to the East was a bit more difficult, physically and mentally. The lenticular cloud forming over Fitz Roy clearly indicated increasing winds, and it seemed like our multi-day window might be about to slam shut. Starting with a rap off the Main summit, we crossed the increasing crenelated ridge with a series of vertical pitches and raps. On one tower, an immense red and grey obstacle, the absolutely perfect granite that we'd been enjoying for the past two days degraded to some sort of grainy choss. I was on lead, and I tried a few different paths, but was turned back twice by poor protection and friable holds. Though the pressure of the impending weather was weighing on me, I also knew that a big lead fall and potential injury would be light-years worse than the slight delay of backing off and trying other paths. Finally, on my third attempt, I found a weakness that took decent pro, and quickly gained the choss tower's summit.
The orange choss tower

From there, the climbing was a bit easier, and we gained the east summit in a few more pitches. Just in time, the weather was coming in! There we found some rappel tat left by our friend Neil a month earlier (on the first ascent of the East Summit!), and gladly began the long descent. Many raps, many stuck ropes, much downclimbing, and one unpleasantly cold waterfall later, we were on the Fitz Norte glacier, with nothing left but the long slog back to basecamp and then town!

The crew at Piedras Negras base camp after our climb. From left, the team of Jose and Greg (Chilean and French), the brothers Joel and Neil Kauffman, then me and Blake.
Jose, Greg, Neil and Joel had all been on the Noth Pillar of Fitz Roy the previous day, and had been stymied attempting to summit by poor conditions. They all resolved to rap the route together, and suffered a series of rope incidents that left them with just one good rope by the end of the descent (each team started with two ropes).
Joel and Neil, no strangers to big mountian suffering, rated their all-night, wet, freezing, cluster-fucked rappel session as a 6.5 on a 1-10 scale of epicness (10 being your own death).

The Brothers K

Back in town, our friend and landlord Daniel threw us a victory Asado (roast). Que Rico!


  1. I distinctly remember trying to figure out, in the morning post-bivy, who was taking the first block. "I'm scared off that woffwidth..." "yeah, I'm scared of that offwidth too!"

  2. Dude sick pictures man, I am definitely jealous. Looks like you have been climbing some amazing rock. Keep living the dream!

  3. Yeah Blake, you're probably right, I remember that conversation too. I definitely would have given it a go, but I definitely would have been more psyched to belay you on it!

  4. Wow! You guys are incredible!!! That rock and all those summit fins are really spectacular. Sounds like you guys had a blast. Stoked for you!