David Lama’s Cerro Torre on Red Bull TV March 19

The trailer for David Lama’s eagerly awaited Cerro Torre: a snowball’s chance in hell is out now.
By Tarquin Cooper

The wait is almost over.

Years after his seminal climb of the 3,128m Cerre Torre, a feat which captivated the climbing community, the feature film of David Lama's ascent is about to be released on Red Bull TV.

The trailer, above, is published this week.

“I'm really looking forward to its release,” says Lama. “People have been talking about it for almost five years now and I think many will be surprised by how it turned out in the end.”

It’s about determination, authenticity and taking a stance on what you believe in and want to achieve.

David Lama

Lama and Peter Ortner first made headlines around the world in 2012 after making the first free ascent of Cerro Torre's 'compressor route,' a line steeped in mountaineering lore.

It was Lama's third attempt on the mountain. The next group of headlines the duo made was with the success of the climb.

David Lama and his partner climb up to Col de la Patienca for an attempt to climb Cerro Torre in Patagonia, Argentina.
Peter Ortner and David Lama on the approach. © Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

“Cerro Torre: a snowball's chance in hell is a story that goes beyond the typical questions of technical and mental fitness. It’s about determination, authenticity and taking a stance on what you believe in and want to achieve,” he says.

I knew if it would not hold my weight I would take a huge fall.


The notoriously extreme weather of Patagonia and the challenge of the climb weren't the only things Lama had to overcome. He also had to face criticism for placing bolts during his first visit in 2010.

“Understanding and overcoming the controversy to me has been my biggest achievement,” says Lama.

The famed compressor route is haunted by controversy. First put up by Cesare Maestre in 1970 to silence critics who doubted his claims of an ascent 11 years earlier, it takes its name from the gas-powered drill he used to place hundreds of bolts into the mountain. It was an act that was criticised across the mountaineering community as a sacrilege.

David Lama putting on his crampons to climb up to Col de la Patienca for their attempt on Cerro Torre in Patagonia, Argentina.
David Lama puts on his crampons © Franz Hinterbrantner/Red Bull Content Pool

Fast forward almost 40 years and it's easy to see how a young Lama, fresh from a sport climbing background – where bolts are commonplace – also caused upset by placing additional bolts.

“I came from a world of rules and regulations and stepped into the world of alpinism – a world where it’s all about the attitude you have towards a mountain. Back in 2009 I didn't have that attitude,” acknowledges Lama today.

A lesser individual would have walked away, but Lama, determined to make the first free ascent returned in 2011 and 2012.

Matters took an unexpected turn when two climbers removed Maestre's bolts in January of 2012, leaving Lama and Ortner no choice but to free climb. 

David Lama climbs a rock face, approaching Cerro Torre in Patagonia, Argentina
David Lama on a rock face near Cerro Torre © Corey Rich/Red Bull Content Pool

Fortunately, the experience leaves only positive memories for Lama.

“The moment that I first climbed to the summit I will never forget. My partner and I had been climbing for more than 24 hours. It was 10pm and I stood up there in a golden light, the last light that came across the Patagonian ice fields and everything below me was in the dark.”

But there were some scary moments too.

“Just 10m from the summit ice field I had to step onto a big block, where I was not sure if it would hold my weight or not," Lama explained.

"I knew if it would not hold, I would take a huge fall onto some bad gear and the chances that the block would cut one of my two ropes was quite big as well.”

We won't reveal too much as the full story is told in the film, which will be available on Red Bull TV March 19.

Lama adds that it is not just for climbing buffs: “It’s about determination, authenticity and taking a stance on what you believe in and want to achieve.”

David Lama
read more about
Next Story