Cerro Torre climbed in winter by Siegrist, Arnold, Huber and Villavicencio
On 30 July Stephan Siegrist, Dani Arnold, Thomas Huber and Matias Villavicencio succeeded in a rare winter ascent of Cerro Torre, Patagonia.
A team of highly experienced alpinists comprised of Switzerland's Stephan Siegrist and Dani Arnold, Germany's Thomas Huber and Argentina's Matias Villavicencio has made an outstanding and extremely rare winter ascent of Cerro Torre by climbing the famous Via dei Ragni and summiting on 30 July in excellent conditions. This is only the second known winter ascent of the Ragni route - after Siegrist's ascent in 1999 together with Gregory Crouch, David Fasel and Thomas Ulrich - and the third known winter ascent of Cerro Torre altogether. The first winter ascent of Cerro Torre was carried out in 1985 by the Italians Paolo Caruso, Maurizio Giarolli, Ermanno Salvaterra and Andrea Sarchi who climbed Maestri's Compressor Route.
Based on their previous experience (Siegrist successfully climbed Cerro Stanhardt in winter 2012 and made the first winter ascent of Torre Egger along with Dani Arnold and Thomas Senf in winter 2010) the team timed its ascent precisely for the end of July. Helped by their friends Luis and Hector Soto, they set off from El Chalten on the 28th laden with gear for the Niponnino Camp. The next day the four continued over Col Standhardt and up to the bivy below Col de la Esperanza, before continuing up the steep headwall early the next morning. Siegrist commented "it was pitch black, but we had to go. Only beneath El Elmo could we turn our headtorches off. We were in a fairytale landscape of unbelievable ice formations. The Ferrari route was a dream!"
The four climbed efficiently and summited late in the afternoon. While in 1999 Siegrist had not climbed the final 10m rime ice mushroom on top of the summit plateau due to prohibitive conditions, this year conditions were ideal and all four reached the summit proper. Siegrist explained "Last time we did without the circa 10m high rime mushroom due to an incoming storm. At the time it made absolutely no difference to us. But things were different this year: no wind on the summit! We climbed the easy last 10m from the summit plateau onto the highest point. Another unforgettable experience in Patagonia! We're overjoyed!"
At 17:30 Siegrist, Arnold, Huber and Villavicencio started their descent and reached their previous bivy at 23:00. With the weather forecast predicting strong winds they opted to return via Passo Marconi and after a 9 hour walk wading through deep snow and across the Marconi glacier they reached the western end of Lago Eletrico, where they bivied another night. The next morning they contiuned towards El Chalten and were met by Hector and Luis half-way who had brought bread, beer and salami to celebrate.