At only 21 years old, Austrian climber David Lama and his partner Peter Ortner have free climbed the feared Cerro Torre in Patagonia via the Compressor Route on January 21. Here is David’s report and a photostory from South America’s most mystic and lethal mountain.
I can't believe it… For more than three years I was driven by the idea of free climbing the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre and now this dream has become true!
My partner Peter Ortner and I started on January 19 from El Chalten and hiked in to Nipo Nino, our first camp. The next morning we climbed up to the Col de la Paciencia, rested there for a few hours and then started our attempt at around 1pm.
We climbed to the start of the Bolt Traverse, but instead of turning right, we went straight up on the technically difficult arête, a few meters left of the Salvaterra crack.
I took a couple of falls until I figured out the right sequence and then was able to send the pitch on my second try from the belay. A few pitches higher we reached the Ice Towers, where we picked a small ledge into an ice field to bivy.
Early the next morning we climbed to the start of the head wall. The fact that Hayden (Kennedy) and Jason (Kruk) had chopped (Cesare) Maestri’s bolts a couple of days ago made my endeavour even more challenging, especially mentally as the protection was poor and I had to do long run outs. Climbing on hollow and loose flakes we followed the original Compressor Route for three pitches. About 20 metres below the compressor we traversed to the right and then reached a system of cracks and corners that lead us to the summit. Climbing the route in alpine style took us 24 hours from the Col.
To me this first free ascent of the south east ridge of Cerro Torre is the end to the probably greatest adventure I have experienced in my life so far. I’m especially proud having it done without adding any bolts. I learned a lot during the past years and climbing in this amazing mountain range has simply been great. Realising dreams – it couldn’t be any better!
Photos © Corey Rich / Red Bull Content Pool