Thursday, January 6, 2011

Type 1 Fun On Aguja Innominata's West Ridge

The West Ridge of Aguja Innominata (700 meters, 5.11a)

"I haven't worn rock shoes for the last 90 pitches I've done in Patagonia."

"That's crazy," I reply to Mike, my eyes scanning the golden towers exploding above my head. We are both salivating at the massive rock walls above Nipinino, the main base camp in the Torre Valley. Temperatures remain warm even after the sun sinks into the ice cap. Our bellies swelling with pasta dinner we organize our gear for the next day. This time, boots, technical crampons, and ice tools aren't part of the equation. Our cold line on Mermoz seems a life away and psyche is high. It's time to go rock climbing.

The Fitzroy group shadowed on the Torre Glacier

The next morning we leave camp with the first pale light. Up and down, we roll over the dry glacier before climbing the entrance ramp that gains the west faces of Poincenot, Aguja Innominata, and Exupery. We have chosen to spend this warm, even hot day dashing up 700 meters of amazing granite on Aguja Innominata's West Ridge. In a go for broke fashion we stuff bars into our pockets, clip half liters of water to our harnesses, and start charging up the winding rib. We hope the snowy descnt gully will be soft as mush later in the afternoon as we haven't even brought our approach shoes along.
Pinch me, I must be dreaming. The "railroad track" cracks (5.10d)

A long simul block leads us to the "railroad track cracks", the defining feature of the ridge's lower buttress. With absolute joy I climb the beautiful splitters for an entire ropelength and bring Mike up behind me. The following pitches stretch the rope and the fun factor. We hoop and holler at friends on Exupery. Far from suffering, we peel off layers as the sun comes around and then simul endlessly through the middle portion of the ridge.

No suffering here...big fun on a big roof (5.11a)

By early afternoon, Mike is leading us to the summit. The 5.10 cracks in this section are without rival. Golden scalloped stone cradles the world's most perfect cracks. The Torres shed ice in booming symphony while the sky paints itself blue as the deep sea.

The summit is an airy, but windless perch. We enjoy ourselves and take pictures of future objectives. Scorching hot rappels land us in soft snow, and soaking wet rock shoes back to the base of the route. Checking the watch I am excited with our 12 hour round trip. Rarely do big routes go so smoothly, especially in Patagonia.


James said...

nice Jens! you're doing it down there!

tradbetty said...

we are heading to Chile on Jan 20th and wondering how things are in Punta Arenas if you happen to be near that area